Together we will beat cancer


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 10:53


My wife was sadly diagnosed with breast cancer back in May of this year. As with any news like this it hit us hard at first, but we've tried to remain positive that the treatment will work.

Personally though, I've suffered for many years with anxiety and depression and I'm on medication for this which is fine. I started a new job at the beginning of this year and they had been quite understanding, although I really believe the manager isn't very good at being supportive.

Over the last couple of months I've struggled at work with simple systems and forgetting things. I'm not sure if this is due to my own mental state and also what is going on at home with my poorly wife. At home we have 2 small children who are cared for through the day when I work, when I get home, it's all hands to the deck to care for my wife and the kids too. 
So I don't know if I'm just overly exhausted as well.

thing is, I was pulled into a meeting with my manager last week who railed at me for oversights in my work. She threatened me with going to HR about it and told me it can't be to do with what's going on at home. Basically suggesting I guess that I'm just incapable of the job.

when I first heard of the news back May, my work went down hill and I was put on a performance plan by the manager. She now states she was going to put me on this anyway and before I heard the news. I don't believe this.

For all my own, I suppose mental health, I do work hard, I turn up and dilligently get on with the job. I actually enjoy what I do. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but maybe the manager just doesn't like me as a person. 
anyway, top and bottom. I feel like I'm going to be getting the bullet anytime now over a lack of understanding of a system they use.

how do I appeal? What can I say to HR in my defence?

its a really worrying time. I'm trying to care for my wife and family by doing all that I can at home and keeping a roof over our heads.

any help and suggestion would be most welcome.

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 11:07 in response to archiethecat

Hi there ..

Bless ya, you must be totally exorsted... oh my .. no wonder your finding it hard .. and that boss of your must be blessed not to have someone she loves with cancer... 

I'm tagging  @davek ‍   he's the one with more info then me .. but I know there's rules at the workplace for cancer but don't know if it's for the patient or the carer .. hopefully he'll be along soon ...

Good luck .. sending a vertual hug.... Chrissie x

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 11:14 in response to Chriss

Aww cheers Chrissie.

I don't expect miracles, but I know I'd get good suggestions and understanding support here!


thank you! 


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 13:58 in response to archiethecat

Hi there sorry to hear your having a  pretty bad time  with so much going on with your wife and struggling yourself employers should be more supportive in such cases I'd contact the citerzans advice for some professional help as a employee you have legal rights they can't dismiss you there is other things that can be put in place like amended duty's and time off for carers leave to support your wife I too have breast cancer and am currently on sick leave from my job I work for the NHS in community care and believe it or not my boss hasn't been supportive at all and tryed to pressure me with being off work I reported her to unison union and they told her to back off I have a critical illness she soon changed her attitude my husband's boss has been very supportive and given him time off to attend appointments with me I think you guys do a amazing job looking after us wife's and cancer affects you too mentally so please look after yourself and take care x

marie .

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 18:53 in response to archiethecat

Hello there

So sorry to hear how much you are dealing with. Speak HR, they are there to ensure that your manager treats you fairly and legally at work, they should support you with your situation. It is not up to your manager to judge how your home situation impacts upon your work, they are clearly not a mental health professional.

Everyone makes mistakes at work and a good employer recognises this and doesn't give their employees a hard time. I've been there, and lack of focus and being forgetful are symptoms of stress and being overwhelmed. Have you spoken to your GP about this? If they know you and your mental health well they may also be able to help you manage this situation.

Start keeping notes of all conversations and meetings with your manager and make it clear that you like your job and want to get things right. Maybe ensure that you always have a supportive colleague or member of HR with you to witness the conversations, that should stop your manager saying anything unhelpful or unprofessional to you. (I did this with a colleague once, it really worked!) They should really tread carefully with you and support you, not add to your stresses.

Good luck with it all


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 19:23 in response to archiethecat

First of all sending love to you and your wife and children. My first thought is, if you're not a member of a union join one tomorrow. It's irrelevant that your boss says she was going to put you on a performance plan prior to your wife's diagnosis. She didn't. You can prove that your wife's diagnosis fits in with you needing support at work. That's all a tribunal will be interested in. It's all based on provible facts, not hearsay.

Secondly they will look at whether your boss is discriminating against you because of your home situation. She's on dodgy ground. You really don't need this at the moment .

Join or speak to your Union and let them take some of the strain. You need support.  You're not on your own, and you need looking after too. Work is work and shouldn't be adding to your stress at this horrible time. Your boss already knows this take care and get in touch anytime x

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 19:29 in response to MB01

Hi MB01

Thank you for your lovely words and I sincerely hope all is well with you and yours.

Its encouraging that there's unions that could possibly help in this regard. I'm going to give Unison a try tomorrow based on what you mentioned so huge appreciation for that.

Again, thank you and I'll keep everyone updated here as to what's happening.



My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 19:31 in response to Cazzyjojo

Fantastic advice here. Thank you for this! It certainly bolsters hope for me. 
Thank you again.


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 19:38 in response to archiethecat

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 22:15 in response to archiethecat


Does your employer know about your mental health condition? if so your are classed as having a 'Protected characteristic'  under the Equality Act 2010.


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 23:15 in response to Magpiemaggie

Hi Magpiemaggie
I told her about it not long after I started the job. Either she's forgotten or just plain ignorant. 
Thank you so much for pointing me to that little bit from the equally act. Massively appreciated. 

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

3 Nov 2019 23:42 in response to archiethecat

Hi Archie,

So sorry to read about your circumstances, sadly this isn't an unusual situation. You've already received some sound advice, so I'll try to keep this short.

The real experts on your rights as a carer are MacMillan - see Their contact details are on that page. 

I don't know how severe your anxiety and depression are but you may find this advice from MIND to be useful.

Unison will be pleased to have you join but it would be unusual for a union to take on a case which existed before a membership started. This would be like taking out car insurance after your car had been stolen and then hoping for the insurance company to help fund a replacement. I only mention this to set your expectations, as I've known people join Unison in the past to help fight an on-going dispute only to be refused help. 

Rather than threatening you with HR, your boss should be referring you to them to get help. Once you are aware of your rights, it would be worth contacting HR, explaining the home situation and the fact that you believe that this is impacting negatively on your performance to them and asking for their help. MB01's experience shows that however good an employer's HR policies are (and the NHS's can be exemplary) they are easily let down by a bad line manager who lacks the training in, and even knowledge of, a Trust's HR policies and processes. Sadly many people are promoted into management with little or no management training or even basic understanding of the HR side of their roles and responsibilities as a line manager. 

I can easily imagine the toll this is taking on you - try to hang on in there.

Best wishes, I hope things improve soon.


My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

4 Nov 2019 07:50 in response to archiethecat


To add to the responses above (and I may be repeating some of them), I would also suggest the following

-MacMillan provide a lot of support to those undergoing cancer treatment and their families and may be able to support/advise
- You may have an Employee Assistance program which can support also, or depending on your industry an industry body (like the Retail Trust) or a union?

I would however suggest that you make a note of all the issues and share your concerns with someone in the HR dept at your work as a pre-emptive strike and also make very clear your thoughts with your boss, and keep notes of all meetings which if things do not get resolved internally may be of use at a later stage.
Also are there any other managers ( or higher bosses) that you can talk to if your line manager is just really not engaging at all and is determined to try & get rid of you?  It may be good to run things past them to get another point of view and advise as to what you could do.


Also on your specific point re this (new?) system I'm intrigued as to what training you've had (given you'll still be quite new to it having only started job earlier this year), how the system is perceived by others & what training they're had.  Was this a point in your performance improvement plan (if not seems like an oversight) and what is the company/your boss - or you doing to embrace (or sort out?) this new system that sounds quite fundamental to success in your role?

I wish you & your wife lots of luck during this (insert bad swear word here) time.

Sam X

My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

4 Nov 2019 19:27 in response to Yorkshire_defector1

Thanks for the kind words Sam. It's mad! It's like you're with me here at work!

well the system is something that's been installed since February. I was there for that. I did the training and have been happily using it ever since with no problems.

but suddenly, over the last 2 weeks, the manager has realised that we're not 'closing' cases properly or not Leaving notes on the system. And suddenly she pulls a whole months worth of my cases where, yeah, I was clearly closing my cases in the wrong way.
But hey! I'd been doing this since February and no problems were found or drawn out!?!

I never left notes because, as far as I was concerned, the case was closed my 'customer' was satisfied.

but alas! She trawling back through all my stuff and suddenly it's a terrible thing!

Threatened me with HR, going to her gaffer and all sorts.

today she told me to stay off the system as they're doing more 'investigations'.

Thing is, its puzzling me as to why she is suddenly jumping on me like this? 
Why pick on something that , in my mind I've been in control of and had no complaints about?

Its very strange. She's been having meetings with this other manager who is a bit of an ass too, to get advice on how to deal with this 'situation' ! It's baffling!

They're coming out of the little glass booths and proper glaring at me as if I've murdered their kids or something! 
well, my manager doesn't have kids so, not sure she'd understand the implications of what they're seemingly plotting.

but it surely. Surely! They can't just let me go like this? Tonight, the manager asked if I wanted a lift as I was waiting for a taxi. I just said it was fine as it was running late. Being a bit too nice for some reason? Ah... it's got my head all over the place.

sorry for rambling folks.

tomorrow i have another meeting with her. We'll see what happens.




My wife has cancer, I could lose my job

4 Nov 2019 20:01 in response to archiethecat

Do work know what is happening? 
import mother/ mother in law to help asap