Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Questions to ask your employer when you return to work

Questions to ask your employer when you return to work image

Most cancer survivors will return to work if they are still physically able to do so, and are just as productive as their colleagues who have never had cancer.1 Here are some ideas for starting a conversation with your employer after you have completed cancer treatment.

You may want to ask the following questions when you return to work after being away:

  • Do I need to “give notice” before I come back to work?2
  • Can I have a phased return so I do not have to start working 100% immediately?2
  • How can I best deal with my specific side-effects at work?2
  • Can we sit together to plan any applicable changes to my job description?2
  • Can I have a flexible working schedule so I can go to doctor’s appointments or work from home?1–3
  • Can I have paid time off to allow me to go to doctor’s appointments?2

If you decide for any reason that you cannot or do not want to return to your old job, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Where can I find information about my retirement funds?2
  • Is there an option for “ill health retirement”?2
  • Who can help me with career advice if I want to switch careers?2

Remember you have no obligation to talk about your cancer if you decide to look for another job, as long as your cancer has no impact on your future career.1,3



  1. Mehnert A. Employment and work-related issues in cancer survivors. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2011;77:109-30.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Facing forward - life after cancer treatment. Accessed March 2016.
  3. Macmillan. Work it out: the essential questions to ask about work. Accessed March 2016.
  4. National Cancer Institute. Going back to work. Accessed March 2016.