Woman, 65, says she was sacked from Department for Work and Pensions job after taking time off for chemotherapy

Pauline Fisher was dismissed just days before Christmas

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The Independent Online

The Department for Work and Pensions has been accused of sacking an employee just days before Christmas after telling her she had taken too much time off work while undergoing chemotherapy. 

Pauline Fisher, 65, who has been diagnosed with incurable kidney cancer, had worked at a DWP-run disability centre in Blackpool for 10 years before being signed off sick for six months last June.

She had insisted that she would return to work after a course of chemotherapy but was told in October – with two months remaining on her sick note - that her employment was being terminated because she had “failed to maintain an acceptable level of attendance.”

She says she appealed against that decision only to be told just days before Christmas that the decision to terminate her employment would be upheld.

As Mr Fisher is of pensionable age, she is therefore not entitled to compensation for having her employment terminated. She is currently being cared for by her daughter and is said to spend much of her time in a wheelchair due to “fatigue and dizzy spells” brought on by her cancer treatment.

Speaking of her feelings of injustice, Mrs Fisher told ITV News: “I’ve not made myself ill. I don’t want to have cancer. I don’t want to be terminal. I want my life back.”

“I loved my job. I mean everybody moans about their job sometimes, don’t they? But the people that I worked with were lovely….This sounds a bit dramatic but it’s a bit like the end of a relationship. It’s just stopped,” she added.

“I’m just a bit sad really. They shouldn’t treat people like this,” Mrs Fisher went on to say.

A spokesperson for the DWP refused to speak about Ms Fisher’s case but did say: “We do all we can to support an employee’s return to work. But if they tell us they can’t return for the foreseeable future, we do need to make plans to ensure we can continue to deliver government services.”