Dying to Work


GMB is campaigning with the TUC 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.


Many workers get a serious illness at some time in their working lives. They may require time off, often many months, to get treatment or recover. There is good guidance that has been produced by the TUC and others to deal with cases of long-term illness, or return to work for those who are disabled as a result of an illness or injury.

However, sometimes there is no effective treatment. In these cases the worker may face a time of huge emotional stress, fear and uncertainty. Trade unions can try to ensure that when that happens, they try to remove any additional stress and worry.

A terminal illness is a disease that cannot be cured or adequately treated and there is a reasonable expectation that the patient will die within a relatively short period of time. Usually, but not always, they are progressive diseases such as cancer or advanced heart disease.

UK Social Security legislation defines a terminal illness as: “a progressive disease where death as a consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 6 months”, however many patients can have a terminal illness and survive much longer than 6 months.

Such protection would give every person battling terminal conditions the choice of how to spend their final months and the peace of mind to know their job was protected and the future
financial security of their family was guaranteed.

Potential effects of losing your job following a terminal diagnosis:

  • Reduced income and loss of financial security.
  • Loss of stimulation, dignity and normality associated with being in employment.
  • Undergoing an inevitably stressful and upsetting HR procedure.
  • Loss of ‘Death in Service’ and ‘Life Assurance’ payments to family members and loved ones.


To find out more about this campaign please visit www.dyingtowork.co.uk/

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