Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service has become the latest employer to sign a charter pledging to help employees who become terminally ill at work.
The Dying to Work campaign was inspired by the case of Jacci Woodcock, a Milford woman who worked in sales but who was forced out of her job after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
To help other people in similar positions, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is now asking employers to sign up to its voluntary charter to stop cases like Jacci’s happening in the future.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue spokesman Judi Beresford said: “Our employees are our biggest asset in delivering an efficient and effective fire and rescue Service and it’s therefore important that we have the correct policies, procedures and health and wellbeing support in place to support them, specifically in times of crisis and ill health.
“By signing the charter, we want to ensure any of our workforce who become terminally ill don’t have the additional stress of losing their job, as a result of their illness, and the charter allows us to offer that valuable peace of mind.”
The Service is the latest employer to sign up to the Dying to Work Voluntary Charter, joining employers such as Derbyshire County Council, E-On, Royal Mail and the Co-op.
TUC Midlands regional secretary Lee Barron said: “Your job should be the least of your worries when you get a terminal diagnosis. I’m delighted that Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service have shown real leadership in this area, working with unions to guarantee fair treatment for terminally-ill workers.
“Over half a million workers are now covered by the Dying to Work charter across the country, and we expect more employers to commit in the coming months.”
The move was also welcomed by the Fire Brigades Union.
Derbyshire branch secretary Chris Tapp said: “In signing up to this Charter Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is demonstrating its commitment to supporting any operational employee or member of support staff should they be given a terminal diagnosis, treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
“At a time when people are potentially at their most vulnerable, this charter gives a real commitment to supporting them and their families.”
As well as the symbolic move of signing the charter, employers are asked to take concrete steps towards improving human resources policies which may affect those with a terminal diagnosis.
That includes reviewing sick pay and sickness absence procedures, offering employees access to counselling and financial advice services, training management staff on how to have appropriate conversations about the future and adaptations in the workplace.
Campaign patron Jacci said, “I am very proud and happy that Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service have signed our Dying to Work Voluntary charter. Thank you so much for valuing all who work for the service.
“After the awful experience I went through with my uncaring company I feel very passionate about protecting all workers who may receive a terminal diagnosis. This campaign is vastly important and I am absolutely delighted with the positive support it is receiving across the UK.”
To learn more about the campaign, visit www.dyingtowork.co.uk.