‘Dying to Work’ Campaign – Motion 57(2016) – British Telecom Positive Response:
To: All Branches
This is an update report to branches on the ‘Dying to Work’ campaign, further to LTBs 364/16 date 6th June 2016, 260/16 dated 26 April 2016 and 581/15 dated 7 September 2015.
Motion 57 (Health and Safety Section) was accepted at 2016 Conference instructing the NEC to provide regular updates on the ‘Dying to Work Campaign’ and to raise awareness amongst our members in the workplace.
The TUC’s ‘Dying to Work Campaign’ called for all TUC affiliated Unions to support the campaign and to raise the profile of the campaign and to pledge to promote the new campaign which is designed to support those workers fighting for their right to work whilst coming to terms with their terminal illness, seeking to achieve dignity and respect that terminally ill workers deserve. A lot of workers with a terminal diagnosis decide that they want to continue working as long as they can, either because they need the financial security or because they find that their work can be a helpful distraction from their illness. Whichever choice a person makes, they should be able to expect help and support from their employer. Unfortunately the experience of many workers is that their employer is either unsympathetic or puts up barriers to them continuing in work.
Representations have been made to Royal Mail and BT.
LTB 364/16 gave an update report on discussions with Royal Mail Group who had given a positive response, declaring support for the campaign and agreeing to amend their ‘Terminal Illness Guide’ to reflect that support.
This LTB however is an update in relation to the discussions with BT Group who I am also pleased to report have given positive support to our campaign.
See attached letter dated 15 September 2016 from Dr Paul Litchfield OBE OStJ FRCP FFOM BT Group Chief Medical Officer and Director Safety, Health & Wellbeing, confirming BT’s support for the principles of the ‘Dying to Work’ Campaign with the exception of the call for Regulations.
The key extracts are as follows:-
“We (BT) are very supportive of the principle of treating terminally ill people with particular dignity and respect. I have spent the best part of 40 years encouraging organisations to do that and to give dying people as much control as possible over decisions affecting their employment – not least because in that situation people generally lose control to “the system” over many of the important decisions affecting them. I have dealt with thousands of people facing these issues over the years and the key to me appears to be flexibility. No two people are the same and you can’t predict what people are going to want – some want to remain in employment for as long as possible and others want to make a clean break and put their affairs in order.
I do not recall a single case in BT over the past 15 years where someone who is dying has been forced to take medical retirement and I see every case where a certificate is issued. More often the pressure is to expedite medical retirement with serious ill health commutation where that is appropriate. We have always (at least in my time) given absolute priority to cases of terminal illness and we have recently amended procedures to speed up the decision making process for all MR cases so that at least one worrying uncertainty is minimised. I have no doubt that if this was going wrong your colleagues on the telecommunications side would have let us know and I would expect to have intervened personally.
Medical advances have changed the landscape during my career. Conditions that were essentially a death sentence a generation ago are now sometimes curable or, more often, have a greatly extended prognosis. Defining “terminal illness” has therefore become much more difficult because very many people have extended periods of life with a disease which is likely to kill them eventually and their level of incapacity varies considerably. Even determining whether people satisfy the HMRC rules for serious ill health commutation has become more challenging, though at BT we will always seek to err on the side of benefitting the scheme member (a line the Trustees support)….we are committed to doing the right thing by our dying employees….flexibility is the key to compassionate management of these cases.
Dr Paul Litchfield OBE OStJ FRCP FFOM
BT Group Chief Medical Officer and Director Safety, Health & Wellbeing”
Further updates will be published to Branches and Health and Safety Reps in due course.
Further information:- Dying to work campaign: http://www.dyingtowork.co.uk
Email Attachments – Click to download
LTB 631/16 ‘Dying to Work Campaign’