Colchester Council signs up to support terminally ill workers

UNISON reps signed a landmark agreement to support terminally ill workers with Colchester Borough Council last night.

The TUC’s Dying to Work charter commits the council to giving staff adequate employment protection and support at work following a terminal diagnosis.

“This is brilliant news for council workers,” said UNISON branch secretary Georgia Norton after the signing ceremony last night.

“Learning you have a terminal illness is devastating enough but it’s even worse for a worker and their loved ones if they get a P45 along with their doctor’s note.

“We’re glad Colchester Council has taken this step to treat their staff with dignity and respect as they go through the trauma of terminal illness.

“We hope it serves as an example to other employers in Colchester – and further afield – to sign up and give their workers the support they need and deserve in their final months.”

The TUC Dying to Work campaign was launched after the death of Jacci Woodcock, a Derbyshire sales manager who was forced out of her job after being diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Dying to Work Charter

  • 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.

Colchester Council urged employers in the borough to follow suit, with leader Councillor Mark Cory saying: “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.

“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.”

UNISON activists and councillors with the charter

The TUC also praised Colchester Council for signing up to the charter.

TUC regional campaigns officer Laurie Heselden said: “A person’s job security should be the least of their worries when they get the terrible news of a terminal diagnosis.

“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.

“The charter is making a real difference to the most vulnerable workers in our workplaces.”

More information on the Dying to Work campaign can be found at

Top photo, courtesy of Colchester Borough Council, shows Laurie Heselden, TUC; Georgia Norton, UNISON Colchester Borough branch secretary; Council leader Mark Cory; Adrian Pritchard, council chief executive; and Cllr Tim Young, deputy leader of Colchester Borough Council.