Speaking with your employer

Only you can decide if you should let your employer know that you have cancer.

Although most employers treat employees experiencing an illness fairly and legally, some employers put unnecessary and sometimes illegal barriers for those employees. 

You may worry about a possible dismissal, failure to be hired, demotion, denial of promotion, denial of benefits, undesirable transfer, and being treated unfairly by co-workers. Depending on your situation, you may want to seek advice from a professional counsellor who understands employment rights for people living with cancer.

Consider telling your employer if:

  • You may need time off for treatments or because you don't feel well

  • You're eligible to take a leave of absence (i.e. short or long-term disability)

  • You're applying for a new position

You may consider not telling your employer if:

  • You're afraid you won't get a raise or promotion

  • You don't want people to feel sorry for you

  • You're afraid of losing your job

What you should know

The best way to protect yourself from employment discrimination is by learning how to advocate for your rights in the workplace.

Learn more about communicating with your work on Cancer and Work's website

An employee is protected for any absence not exceeding 12 weeks.

The Canada Labour Code provides protection against dismissal, lay-off, suspension, demotion or discipline because of absence due to illness or injury. It is important to know that the Code provides job security only. It does not guarantee paid leave of absence.
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You may be entitled to cash benefits under the Employment Insurance Act.

You are also protected from discrimination in the workplace due to your illness by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), you may want to take advantage of it.

The EAP counsellors can help you deal with personal problems that could affect work and your overall wellbeing. EAP services are private and confidential.
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Employee assistance program for cancer