Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Telling my employer

Telling my employer image

You may worry about telling your employer about your cancer, or be afraid that you will be made redundant or experience some form of discrimination.

You do need to tell them, however, because when you begin treatment it will probably affect your work in some way; your employer should be more supportive if they know about your diagnosis, and can help you make any necessary adjustments at work.1

If you live in an EU country, you will be protected by employment laws.2 All EU countries also have similar rules on sickness benefits.3 Here are some additional resources that may be useful to you:

  • [Rules on dismissal and employment protection during sickness]
  • [Your rights to sick leave]
  • [How to claim sickness benefit]

Here are some tips for talking with your employer:

  • Request a meeting with someone from the Human Resources department (or whoever is responsible for staff where you work)1 in a location where you will not be interrupted or overheard
  • Ask about any changes you might need to keep up with work, such as working from home some days or working over weekends1,4
  • Ask about any company documents that could relate to your situation1
  • Think about who you do and do not want to tell within your organisation, and ask for suggestions about how to communicate the message4

Once you have told your employer:

  • Keep a record of the conversations you have with your employer, for the unlikely event that you end up having to file a discrimination complaint5
  • Do ask for help if you need more support or flexibility on some days or with certain duties1,4




  1. Macmillan. Talking to your employer. Accessed March 2016.
  2. European commission. Legislation. Accessed March 2016.
  3. European commission. Sickness, maternity and paternity Accessed March 2016.
  4. Cancer.org. Working during cancer treatment - will I be able to work while I’m getting treatment? Accessed March 2016.
  5. Cancer Research UK. The disability discrimination act and cancer. Accessed March 2016.