- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Workplace rights
- Concerns about discrimination
Concerns about discrimination
Being discriminated against at work because you have a disability is against the law under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and Fair Work Act 2009, as well as state and territory legislation. Cancer is considered a disability under these laws.
Disability discrimination in the workplace may occur in different ways:
Direct discrimination – This is when you are treated less fairly than someone without cancer. For example, an employer denies you a promotion, demotes you to a lower-paid job, refuses to hire you or dismisses you for a reason related to having cancer, when they would not have done these things to an employee who does not have cancer.
Indirect discrimination – This is when a policy, rule or practice that seems fair actually disadvantages people who can’t follow it because they have cancer. For example, a requirement for staff to stand while serving customers might indirectly discriminate against you if the cancer prevents you from standing comfortably. The employer may be able to adjust this rule; however, the rule won’t be unlawful if it is reasonable in all the circumstances.
Australian law requires an employer to make changes (reasonable adjustments) to help people with cancer do their job. Learn some examples of reasonable changes. Your employer can only refuse these changes if they would cause unjustifiable hardship to the business, on other reasonable business grounds, or if you still couldn’t perform the essential parts of your job.
Podcast for people affected by cancer
Brooke Russell, Principal Occupational Therapist, WA Cancer Occupational Therapy, WA; Bianca Alessi, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; James Chirgwin, Physiotherapist, The Wesley Hospital, QLD; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Simon Gates, Barrister, Tasmanian Bar, TAS; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Kaylene Jacques, Director, People and Communications, Cancer Council NSW; Alex Kelly, Senior People Attraction Advisor, Human Resources, Allianz Australia Insurance, NSW; Legal reviewer; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Lesley McQuire, Consumer, Cancer Voices NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.