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Is Lymphoedema classed as a disability for equality purposes?

Hey all,

Would anyone happen to know if Lymphoedema is classed as a disability for equality purposes?

I've been forced to leave a job, and have spoken to ACAS about unfair dismissal - but first need to know the answer to this question.

I'm trying various avenues and was wondering if everyone else had experienced this themselves?


9 Replies

Hi djkeith below is some information that was written for the LSN hope it helps.

The Equalities Act (The Act) of October 2010 covers disability, including disability in relation to employment. The Act covers a range of equality issues known as “protected characteristics” e.g. age, disability, race.

The definition of the protected characteristic of disability is “A person has a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on the person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.” People with cancer are automatically included and people with severe disfigurements are also likely to be covered.

An employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate an employee, or a prospective employee, with a disability (that falls within the definition of The Act). However an employer cannot make reasonable adjustments if the employee, or prospective employee, does not disclose any needs they may have. Reasonable adjustments vary according to individual needs but a simple example would be providing a seat at a till point if a shop assistant could not stand for long periods.

As with most medical conditions lymphoedema is not specifically covered by the Act – it is the impact lymphoedema has on an individual that is relevant (unless the lymphoedema is as a result of cancer in which case the individual is automatically covered).

The matter of disability and employment is complex. Further information is available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission Information and advice is available from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and members of trade unions should expect advice from their trade union.


This is a very interesting, and pertinent, question and I will be interested to know how you get on with your claim. I am currently off work ill post op, but I know that this is a situation I may be facing in the future.



When I worked for Royal mail I came under the DDA (Disability Discrimation Act) and this was ascertained a number of times by the Occupational Health department. So in answer to your question Lymphoedema is a condition that can be classed as a disability and can come under the above legislation. As with the first answer it is very much down to individual circumstances and you certainly need good advice. ( I was medically retired from Royal mail eventually)


it definitely would be down to individual circumstances. I've had it in both legs since childhood and i am sure i have been discriminated against when going for jobs etc. as i look slightly different, but i would not say i am disabled. There are some things i can do and others i can't, my husband on the other hand has developed a form of lymphoedema due to excess weight and this certainly does cause him some disability although under the "Act" he would probably not qualify. If you want to go down that route you need to seek specialist legal advice.


hi djkeith

there are 3 question strands on equalities going, & i've put my 2 penn'orth in all of 'em

don't pay a lawyer yet

acas has advisers, go to your union & / or contact the equality commission (although they're not supporting individuals anywhere near as much as the disability rights commission did)

did your employer sort out an occy health assessment to check how well you and your job fitted, & what 'reasonable adjustments' they could make to enable you to do it more / better / easier / different? if not, they're scuppered for having sacked you straight away (& denied you the opportunity to discuss with an occy health person whether you meet the terms of the equality act as well) & you need to explain that to acas asap; if they did, whether it's worth fighting for unlawful / unreasonable dismissal will largely depend on whether the occy health report was 'on your side' in it's impartial (!) reportings

good luck


Hi norberte,

Thanks for your note. Acas have turned out to be not all that helpful. I had a letter from my GP confirming that my Lymphoedema would have an impact on my workng life, but because he didn't specifically say that it is a disability for equality purposes they have told me it is worthless and I should give up!

The health assessment that you talk about, I'm not sure I did. I filled a form when first joining on which I disclosed my Lymphoedema. However, when I went to discuss the condition and the job I was doing with my manager I was told that it was probably best if I left. No other questioning about my condition in anyway shape or form. This is what annoys the most.

As no health assessment was carried and I did not speak with anyone regarding my condition is it worth me calling Acas again? I felt a bit fobbed off last time!




oh keith, you poor thing, what an awful position to be in

i'm not up to date enough on employment law - i know you have to have worked for an employer for a particular length of time (1 year? 2 years? before you're entitled to much in the way of protection

but even if you haven't worked for them long enough in terms of employment law, sounds like you've been discriminated against under the equality act

you could say that to acas if you phone them again

or i wonder how much help you could get from the equalities & human rights commission helpline? here's the link:

(you might have to copy & paste it into a new window)

& could you go & see your gp & explain what's happened so they could maybe write another letter with more info

& if you see a lymphoedema support service it'd be good to get something from them too

& of course the lsn helpline


they might have some ideas about what to do next

i feel very frustrated on your behalf - but that's not gonna get your bills paid, is it?

have a cyber hug, & please let us know how you get on


Hi Guys, all this information is good to have. In my case i was 2 years in and out of Hosipital, in a wheel chair, plasters on and off all before it was agreed this problem was more than what it was originally diagnosed.

Eventually i spoke with my Employer and told him the Hospital has asked me to look at my life style and my working situation, I worked in recruitment and i was up and down the length of Scotland interviewing people so i was on my legs from early morning until very late some evenings, if not sat at a desk for 12 hours.

I new i just couldn't walk away from my job financially as i would not be allowed to claim unemployment and i needed to live, and this would have been classed as making myself unemployed. He organised to have my medical health assessed by an outside Doctor. This was a very long medical but the Man went over every aspect of my job, including the driving, how long i was at a desk, if the office could be adapted to help my Legs and arms, If i could take on less hours. All of which was not possible, i was needed to do the hours that were required and clients want me when they phone not an empty desk.

After speaking at length and also advising me if i were to be offered a medical exit to make sure the company compensated me well, as i still had to live when made redundant on medical grounds, not just to accept holiday pay that was still due and 12 weeks pay. As they were an outside company they did not favour the company in any way which was good for my situation. I was made an offer and accepted this, it was less that i had wished for but in reflextion my Boss had been very good to me, he had paid me full wages the whole time i had been off sick, he had also paid for private care and private scans to get me seen sooner. This had to be taken into account when working out a final salary payment for me.

I have an amazing consultant who now looks after me and my GP knows how bad my Condition can be and he never questions me or my condition, he always helps the best he can when he is called upon. I never feel that i am being a bother to him.

I do find myself to be very fortunate when i read a lot of everyones plights.

I know i have many other illnesses and this does allow me to claim for Disability help, which in return allows me to remove some of every day worry. It did lay weight to my claim when he nearly lost me to an Asthma attack in his room, i then ended up on a life Ventilator which allowed my lungs to recover.

I hope everyone does get the proper attention and help that is required in the Work place after reading some of your stories, i feel that this Condition needs to be listed as a Major Disability.

I have a friend who was a nurse and has LD in both legs and was placed on the sick, 11 months down the line her work was forcing her to return to work or give up Nursing. Eventually she has agreed to return, but to office duties and not Ward work. But if she doesn't get the help in the work place to accomodate her requirements they may once again find themselves looking at how to address this again. Unfortunately her Consultant has said he feels she is fit to return to work, even after extensive explanations of how painful and how exhausting this condition is, more so to do simple task from day to day. made worse that she lives in a flat with many steps to her home.

I am not sure what length we have to go to, to have this condition recognised as a major Disibility. My neighbour has told me he was found on a bridege ready to take his life, as the pain was so out of control and he couldn't see how he could live with this, as it had changed his marriage and family life so much. Luckily his wife managed to bring him home and things have improved for him. But this is just two stories, we have many thousands of people who live with this and it really needs to be addressed.

Sorry guys my fighting head went into gear for a moment. But i am sure you all know what i mean and how the frustrations can effect us all in many different ways.

Keep on at your Employer and make them address what would help you to be more comfortable and allow you to do your job just like any other employee. If your condition is causing things to be to much, ask them to organise a medical with Occupational Therapy or an outside company and allow them to assess and advise the employer what would be best, keeping in mind, you still have to live if you need to give work up.

Good luck everyone. x



I would like to know ow how you get on as I have just had similar in that I have severe superficial thrombosis in leg and my GP also suspects a have lymphomadima. I have lost my job today which was stated as u derrrrrrr performance ...... not true but started when I had this thrombosis. I have spoken with acas but since I have been with company for less than 2 years there is nothing they can do I mentioned the above and he said needed to talk to GP. To see if falls under derrrrrrr the disabilities act.


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