Leeds Teaching Hospitals is the first NHS trust in West Yorkshire to sign up to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Charter for terminally ill workers. The charter’s aim is to help employees who become terminally ill at work.
Although the Equality Act 2010 does offer some protection for these employees, the act still allows employers to dismiss a terminally ill employee if they fail a capability assessment with ‘reasonable adjustments’.
The Dying to Work campaign which is promoted by TUC would like to see terminal illness recognised as a ‘protected characteristic’ so that an employee with a terminal illness would enjoy a ‘protected period’ where they could not be dismissed as a result of their condition.
Under the Charter employees will have 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 a challenging period with dignity and without undue financial loss.
Dying to Work was taken forward 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.
Dean Royles Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “This is another excellent initiative from the TUC and we are pleased to support it. We want to ensure we can be as compassionate and caring to our staff when they are faced with a terminal illness as they are to the patients we treat and care for.”
Joe Cohen, Chair of the Staff Council at Leeds Teaching Hospitals and GMB Branch secretary, added: “The Staff Council supports this caring campaign to prevent the ‘unintended consequences’ of applying policies in the workplace that cannot (and were never designed to) accommodate the particular needs of an employee facing multiple challenges as they deal with their diagnosis.”
Bill Adams, TUC regional secretary for Yorkshire and the Humber, has welcomed the news. He said: ‘The signing of this charter underlines the importance of working together to provide compassionate and sensible working policies and is a great advert for positive approaches to industrial relations.
“The TUC are proud to work with good employers who show commitment and a caring approach towards staff who unfortunately find themselves in very difficult circumstances through illness. The very staff who provide excellent services to the public deserve the security and dignity that this charter brings.”
The TUC Dying to Work Voluntary Charter states:
We recognise that terminal illness requires support and understanding and not additional and avoidable stress and worry.
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.
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.
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.
For further information on the Dying to Work Charter visit www.dyingtowork.co.uk