Reactions to your news at work will differ. Some colleagues may be very compassionate and helpful and others may not be comfortable with your news.
Talk to your family and friends about the best approach on how to tell your employer. Here are some ideas that might help:
- Your manager should be one of the first people to know so they don’t hear it second-hand. Explain how cancer treatments may affect you at work and your need for time off for appointments. Confirm arrangements for paid and unpaid sick leave. Get approval for your sick leave from your manager.
- Talk to your manager about what you would like your colleagues to know or not know. If you are comfortable talking to colleagues, keep messages simple about the treatments you’ll be having and how they may affect you and your appearance (e.g. hair loss and fatigue). Encourage them to ask questions if you are comfortable with that but if you are not comfortable, it’s okay to say that you don’t want to discuss it.
- Keep your manager updated as needed on your health and progress.
- If possible, ask your manager for assistance and flexibility with regard to deadlines and projects, hours worked during treatment. Ask if you can work from home (if possible).
Many individuals choose to keep working through their treatment. Discuss this with your specialist team as they may be able to schedule appointments to suit your working hours and can also advise on side effects that may impact your ability to be productive such as nausea, fatigue and cognitive effects (poor concentration and memory loss).
Here are some tips that might help if you are working through:
- Keep a ‘work diary’ showing the days you work, work meetings and appointments, project deadlines, and notes from meetings
- Make daily ‘to-do’ lists to help you keep track of jobs
- Talk to your manager about some extra help or job-sharing when needed.
All employees - full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed-term or casual - are entitled to a copy of their (individual or collective) employment agreement in writing. The employment agreement must have terms and conditions which are at least as good as the minimum rights in the law.
Your minimal rights are: Five days’ paid sick leave per annum after first six months, and 15 days can be carried over to a maximum of 20 days.
For more information about your sick leave entitlements visit:
The Citizens Advice Bureau or Employment New Zealand