Disclosing details of your breast cancer diagnosis in the workplace may be confronting or uncomfortable. However, telling your employer can be of benefit when making adjustments to your work schedule.
Make yourself familiar with your entitlements and work policies so you are aware of your rights.
You are not legally obliged to disclose your diagnosis to your employer.
However, if your employer is not aware, they are less likely to make reasonable adjustments to your employment. This can have a negative impact on your job and working relationships and may cause issues at a later date.
If you choose to tell your employer it's important to keep the lines of communicate open and regular throughout your treatment. Agree on a plan about the changes to your work duties, hours of work and your return to work date if you are taking time off.
Relevant people to talk with about your work adjustments include:
My immediate work colleagues and management were really understanding and enormously flexible. The human resources area were great and answered all my questions about returning to work and various options.
The following information can help you when planning to speak with your employer about your diagnosis.
Write down questions or items you would like to discuss, for example:
Keep a record of your discussions, as it will help you remember what has been discussed and can be referred to if necessary.
Listen to BCNA’s podcast Work after breast cancer: Tackling the difficult conversations.
Read BCNAs factsheet Managing the financial impacts of breast cancer.
Read BCNA's factsheet, Work rights and responsibilities for employees following a diagnosis of breast cancer.
For information about discrimination because of a cancer diagnosis contact the Australian Human Rights Commission - 1300 656 419.
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
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When your employee is off work for breast cancer treatment, create a 'return to work' plan so you can discuss and agree the best way forward
Causes of financial stress and ways to manage it.
Making decisions about work and understanding your employee rights when you are diagnosed with breast cancer is important
If you are self-employed, you may need financial advice or support to continue your business during breast cancer treatment