Accessibility and support when working

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Find out about the supports that are available to you to help you succeed at work.

Key points

  • Accomodations are changes that can help a person with physical or cognitive challenges and/or health conditions be able to work, such as flexible work hours or support with learning new tasks.
  • Discrimination in the workplace for any reason, including reasons related to health, violates your rights and is illegal.
  • If you feel you are facing discrimination, write down the details of what happened; talk about the situation with your employer or human resources; ask a legal expert for their input; and look for support from a cancer support group or your doctor.

Some work environments have supports available that can help cancer survivors succeed at work. Speak to your employer about what’s available in your workplace. You never know what you can achieve with a bit of support and creativity.

What are accommodations?

Accommodations are changes that can be made in the workplace to help a person with physical challenges, cognitive challenges, or health conditions be able to work. Accommodations may include flexibility in work hours or duties, support with learning new tasks or changes to the work environment. These can be very helpful, especially if you have late effects from cancer or treatment.

The type and amount of accommodation you may be entitled to will depend on your employment and your level of impairment. Some smaller organizations may not be able to offer as many accommodations as larger organizations.

If you need to request accommodation, your employer will usually ask for a doctor’s letter outlining your limitations. This will allow your employer to support you properly. Even if you require accommodation, you do not usually need to tell your employer about your cancer history. Ask your employer (or potential employer) about the possibility of accommodation in the work environment.

Discrimination in the workplace

You may be worried about telling your employer about the limitations you have due to cancer or treatment. You may worry that you will face discrimination, which means experiencing unjust or unfair treatment based on your personal characteristics. Discrimination violates your rights as a person and is illegal within the work place.

If you feel you are facing discrimination in the workplace, consider the following.

  • Write down what happened, when and where it happened, and who was involved.
  • Talk about the situation with your employer or the human resources department (if there is one), and ask about accommodations.
  • Ask a legal expert to see whether the law would consider your experience to be discrimination. If it is, you can explore the possibility of taking legal action.
  • Look for support from a cancer support group and your doctor. You may be able to learn from the experience of others in a similar situation.

Finding and maintaining work

Support groups can be a great resource to help you figure out how to be most effective in looking for or keeping a job. They offer opportunities to hear other people’s stories about how they overcame their challenges with cancer, and how they managed to hold down a job. You can also share your experience and inspire others!

Ask your health-care team to recommend a group in your area or an online group. You will also find links to online support groups in the Resources and support groups page.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019