Supporting our terminally ill members and those with chronic conditions

Tony Slaven
Tony Slaven

#stuc19 Congress slammed employers who shamefully ill-treat terminally ill workers and called for all employers to sign up to the Dying to Work Charter and commit to implement it fully.

Speaking in support of the STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference motion, UNISON’s Tony Slaven told Congress that the equalities act provides protection against discrimination for people identified with a ‘protected characteristic’ but that workers with a terminal illness don’t have that.

“That’s what we need to change,” urged Tony.

“As soon as the employer is informed of this diagnosis then it starts…all the trials and tribulations with the managers and HR all openly heading towards dismissal due to incapability.

“Facing the indignity of dismissal while managing a terminal illness is, quite simply, cruel and wrong.

It also deprives workers of death in benefit which would provide some financial security for the worker and those left behind.

Tony called for delegate unions to lobby our local authorities and private employers, to sign up to the TUC’s ‘Dying to Work’ charter and to lobby MPs for legislation to make terminal illness a protected characteristic and to protect death in service rights.

Negotiating reasonable adjustment passports Continuing with the equalities agenda and the rights of disabled workers, Tony then supported another motion from the STUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, as Congress called on unions to work with their disabled members to develop a ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ Passport.

The STUC will support the development of model policies to integrate these Passports into their equalities policies and will support affiliates to promote these as a campaigning, organising and negotiating tool.

Tony told delegates that life for workers with disabilities or chronic conditions can often be very difficult.

“The law recognises that to secure equality for disabled people, work may need to be structured differently, and barriers removed.

“Yet despite this legal duty under the Equality Act 2010 to proactively make reasonable adjustments to remove, reduce or prevent the disadvantages that disabled workers face – many people still find it difficult to have difficulties acknowledged and reasonable adjustments made to their work,” warned Tony.

“Then, having got those adjustments that they need put in place – some find that a change at work, like moving to a new department, or even – ridiculously – staying in the same job, in the same place, but their line manager changes can leave people back at square one and having to go through the whole tedious – and often stressful business again.”

He urged unions to promote ‘Reasonable Adjustment Passports’ – a live record of adjustments agreed between a worker and their manager to support them at work because of a health condition, impairment or disability. He pointed out that these would support members and their reps to work with employers to ensure that up-to-date, appropriate, practical and correct reasonable adjustments are in place and is fully in line with the Scottish Government’s fair work agenda.

Tony ended, “This motion is about empowering disabled workers. It is about helping them ensure they receive what they are entitled to, making sure that the principles enshrined in the Equality Act aren’t a dead letter but a living document.”

Click here for more information on the STUC website.

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