Employment rights

Employee rightsAnyone diagnosed with a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN), or indeed other illness, in paid employment, is entitled to being treated fairly at work and where reasonable employers should make changes to let you do your job whilst receiving ongoing treatment. 

Several legal acts are in place to protect employees, job applicants and people who are self-employed.  These include the Equality Act 2010, The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Disability Discrimination order 2005.

Discrimination can include:


  • Being asked to retire/stop working/chosen for redundancy/dismissed because of your MPN
  • Not being allowed time off for medical appointments
  • An unfavourable review related to the amount of time off for sick leave related to your MPN
  • Being passed over for a promotion for a person with less experience than you
  • Being given a lower paid or less demanding job for MPN related reasons
  • A manager not making reasonable changes to your job to take into account some of the effects of your MPN e.g fatigue 
  • Being bullied, intimidated or teased about MPN related issues e.g hair loss or fatigue and tiredness.

The Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you because of your disability and since MPNs are classified as cancers, you are classed as disabled.

Reasonable adjustments

Unfortunately there is no fixed description of what this means and it’s advisable that you let your employer know that you have a blood condition so that they can consider what adjustments might be required.

Examples of reasonable adjustments include allowing lighter duties for a period of time, allowing flexible work hours, time off for medical appointments, allowing some work from home, and maybe changing performance targets to take into account extra time off work or MPN related fatigue.

Successful and amicable negotiation of such adjustments will vary from employer to employer but do look to keep your employer informed and try to consider how practical some of the adjustments might be in your work place.

Be informed about relevant company policies and approach your employer with suggestions or solutions that will help you to fulfil your work commitments to your best ability.

If you have difficulty talking with your direct manager ask to speak with someone in human resources or an occupational health advisor for help. Having an MPN can be hard to come to terms with and negotiating changes in your work place can often be an added challenge so do take time to consider what will enable you to successfully fulfil your role. 

Confidentiality 

The Human Rights Act 1998 and The Data Protection Act 1998 ensure your personal information is kept private, including your medical information. What this means is that employers can’t automatically access your medical information although they may ask for a medical report from your healthcare team. Please note that you can request and have the right to see the report before it is given to your employer and we would encourage you to ask to do so.

If you are unsure about anything that seems to be an area of conflict or concern related to your medical condition it would be advisable to contact an employment lawyer or organisation such as Equality Advisory Support Services - telephone 0808 800 0084, The Law Society or in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Please note this information is for guidance and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional employment advice.