MP Catherine commits to TUC ‘Dying to Work’ Charter

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has this week signed the TUC’s ‘Dying to Work’ charter, pledging her commitment to support and protect any of her employees who become terminally ill.

Since its launch in April 2016, the TUC’s voluntary ‘Dying to Work Charter’ now protects over half a million employees with companies such as Legal and General, Santander, Co-Op, Carillion, Rolls Royce and Royal Mail joining E.On to sign up, alongside a number of public sector bodies including NHS trusts, police authorities and many local councils.

The Dying to Work campaign was set up 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. The campaign is calling for a change in the law to prevent the same thing happening to other working people.

Catherine McKinnell said:

‘The very last thing someone diagnosed with a terminal illness needs is to feel they are being forced out of their job as a result of their condition. They should be supported to work for as long as they feel able and want to – and they certainly shouldn’t have to worry about their loved ones losing things like death in service payments earned through a lifetime of hard work.

‘I will be encouraging local employers to also pledge their support to the Dying to Work Charter, as every person with a terminal illness should receive the protection and support they deserve.’

The campaign has also been endorsed by a number of trade unions and charities, including The National Council for Palliative Care, Hospice UK, Breast Cancer Care and Second Hope.

TUC Deputy General Secretary, Paul Nowak, said:

‘Serious illness is tough enough without having to put up with extra hassle at work. Everyone can surely agree that terminally-ill workers deserve protection.

‘That’s why unions, MPs, employers and charities are coming together to ensure that workers get the support and protections they need when times are toughest.’

This broad support was demonstrated in a recent Survation poll of over a thousand people which found that 79% of respondents support a ‘protected period’ for terminally ill workers where they could not be dismissed as a result of their condition with only 3% opposing it.

Employers signing up to the TUC Dying to Work Charter state that:

  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.