Caption: West Lothian Council and Trade Union representatives joined Council Leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick to sign the declaration.
The Dying to Work Campaign is managed by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and encourages employers to sign up to a voluntary charter making a number of commitments such as reviewing sick pay and absence procedures and ensuring managers have training on dealing with terminally ill colleagues, including awareness of adaptations to work arrangements that could be necessary. The council, TUC and our trade unions (GMB, Unite, EIS and Unison) met at Bathgate Partnership Centre to sign the charter which sets out an agreed way in which council employees will be supported and protected throughout their employment, following a terminal diagnosis.
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: "By signing this charter we recognise that terminal illness requires support and understanding and not additional and avoidable stress and worry. "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."
Julie Whitelaw, Head of Corporate Services for West Lothian Council added: "Terminally ill workers will be secure in the knowledge that we will support them following their diagnosis and that 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 period with dignity and without undue financial loss."
Yvonne Stewart, Assistant General Secretary - Operations and Equality for the STUC added:
"The Dying to WorkCharter campaign seeks greater security for terminally ill workers where they cannot be dismissed as a result of their condition - because your job should be the least of your worries when you get a terminal diagnosis. The STUC are delighted that West Lothian Council have shown real leadership in this area, working with unions to guarantee fair treatment for terminally-ill workers."
The council is committed to the following commitments:
- Review sick pay and sickness absence procedures and include a specific statement that they will not dismiss any person with a terminal diagnosis because of their condition.
- Ensure that that they have an Employee Assistance Programme that has the capacity and competency to provide support to any person with a terminal illness, including access to counselling and financial advice.
- Provide training to line managers and all HR staff on dealing with terminal illness, including how to discuss future plans with any worker who has a diagnosis of a terminal illness, and on what adaptations to work arrangements that may be necessary.
- Adopt the Dying to Work Charter and notify all employees that they have made the commitments contained in it.