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Colchester Council adopts compassionate end-of-life charter for terminally ill staff

Colchester Borough Council has added its name to a new charter aimed at helping employees who become terminally ill.

Date issued: 10 October 2018

Colchester Borough Council has added its
name to a new charter aimed at helping employees who become terminally ill.

The charter forms part of the TUC’s wider Dying to Work campaign, which seeks greater support and security for terminally ill workers through – among other pledges – a ‘protected period’ when they cannot be dismissed because of their condition.

While the council’s existing employment policies and Employee Assistance Programme already enshrine elements of the Dying to Work campaign, the charter offers additional assurances to staff about how they will be supported, protected and guided throughout their employment following a terminal diagnosis.

The Dying to Work Charter states the following:

  • 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
  • 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

The council’s Employee Assistance Programme, adopted in 2014, already offers staff support 24-hours a day, seven days a week with access to counselling on a range of issues including mental and emotional wellbeing, physical health and financial advice. Crisis support is also available to any member of staff who needs it.

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

Colchester Council hopes other employers in the borough will now follow its lead and sign up to the voluntary charter, to stop cases like Jacci’s happening in the future.

Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “As signatories of the Dying to Work Charter, we commit to treating our staff with the dignity and respect they deserve, as well as providing them with the pastoral care and the reassurance of financial security while they cope with the stress of a life-limiting illness.

“We have always tried to support our staff in the best way we can, and this Charter further strengthens that commitment. The last thing anyone with a terminal illness needs to worry about is their job.

Laurie Heselden, from Trades Union Congress East of England, added: “A person’s job security should be the least of their worries when they get the terrible news of a terminal diagnosis. In fact, a person’s job should be a source of strength and support in such circumstances, and not another cause for worry and distress.

“The TUC is delighted that Colchester Borough Council has shown real leadership in this area, working with unions to guarantee fair and sensitive treatment for terminally-ill workers. 

“Nearly a million workers are now covered by the TUC’s Dying to Work charter and we expect more employers to follow Colchester Borough Council’s example and to sign up in the coming months. And we know that the implementation of the Charter is making a real difference to the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces.”

More information about the Dying to Work campaign can be found at www.dyingtowork.co.uk.

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