TUC Dying to Work Campaign

Sandwell Council first Local Authority to sign up to TUC’s Dying to Work Charter for helping terminally ill workers

Sandwell Council have signed up to the Dying to Work charter aimed at helping workers who become terminally ill at work.

The Dying to Work Voluntary Charter is a TUC initiative which sets out how employers can support terminally ill workers following their diagnosis. It is part of the TUC’s wider Dying to Work campaign which is seeking to change the law to secure terminally ill workers a ‘protected period’ where they cannot be dismissed as a result of their condition.

Dying to Work was set up by the TUC following the case of Jacci Woodcook, a 58-year-old sales manager from Derbyshire, who was forced out of her job after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

In the absence of legislative protection, the TUC is asking employers to sign up to its voluntary charter to stop cases like Jacci’s happening in the future.

Sandwell Council leader, Councillor Steve Eling, said “We recognise that employees with terminal illnesses require support and understanding, and not the additional stress and worry about possibly losing their job. “We will set out to support terminally-ill employees following their diagnosis and to recognise that safe and reasonable work can maintain dignity and offer a valuable distraction.

“Sandwell Council has a long history of supporting employees diagnosed with terminal illness, but has never previously backed-up this stance by having a formal council rule on this matter. Joe Morgan, GMB Regional Secretary and Regional Chair of the TUC Midlands, said: "I've seen lots of cases where GMB has had to provide advice and support to members in different industries who were fighting both a terminal condition and also the prospect of losing their job and financial security. This is clearly not acceptable and this is what the Dying to Work campaign is for. It's about giving people battling a terminal condition both choice and security. Choice in how to spend their final months and security knowing their job is protected and the future financial security of their family is guaranteed. “By becoming the first local authority in the country to sign our Dying to Work Charter, Sandwell Council is making sure that these principles are put into action. Both GMB and the TUC welcome the council's decision and we hope this will inspire other employers in the region to work with us to implement the charter in more workplaces." Darren James, GMB Branch Secretary, added: "GMB has been working hard to raise the profile of the Dying to Work Campaign within Sandwell Council and it's great that the Charter has now been signed. We're sure that this will bring some real peace of mind to council staff who have a terminal condition"

Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Lee Barron said: “Worrying about your job should be the least of your concerns when you receive a terminal diagnosis.

“Sandwell Council have shown real leadership in this area, working with unions to guarantee fair treatment for workers who find themselves in this position.

“Hopefully more local authorities will now follow Sandwell’s lead by signing the Dying to Work Charter and supporting our campaign for greater employment protection for terminally ill workers.”

The TUC Dying to Work Voluntary Charter states the following:

1. We recognise that terminal illness requires support and understanding and not additional and avoidable stress and worry.

2. Terminally ill workers will be secure in the knowledge that we will support them following their diagnosis and we recognise that safe and reasonable work can help maintain dignity, offer a valuable distraction and can be therapeutic in itself.

3. We will provide our employees with the security of work, peace of mind and the right to choose the best course of action for themselves and their families which helps them through this challenging period with dignity and without undue financial loss.

4. We support the TUC’s Dying to Work campaign so that all employees battling terminal illness have adequate employment protection and have their death in service benefits protected for the loved ones they leave behind.

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