- 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 because of your cancer 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 your cancer diagnosis, 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, it won’t be unlawful if the rule is reasonable in all the circumstances.
Australian law requires your employer to make changes to accommodate the effects of cancer and help you perform your job (reasonable adjustments). Learn some examples of reasonable changes. Your employer can refuse to make these changes only if they would cause unjustifiable hardship to the business.
Kerryann White, Manager, People and Culture, Cancer Council SA; Nicola Martin, Principal, McCabe Curwood, NSW; Jane Auchettl, Coordinator, Education and Training Programs, Cancer Council Victoria; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Alana Cochrane, Human Resources Business Partner, Greater Bank Newcastle, NSW; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, North West Regional Hospital, TAS; Dianne Head, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead, NSW; Alex Kelly, Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Aon, NSW; Prof Bogda Koczwara AM, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Sharyn McGowan, Occupational Therapist, Bendigo Health, VIC; Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Michelle Smerdon, Legal and Financial Support Services Manager, Cancer Council NSW. We would also like to than the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.