UK MEP Rory Palmer demands more help for people at work with terminal illness

British MEP Rory Palmer has called for greater recognition of workers who suffer from terminal illness.

The deputy’s comments come after fellow MEPs  last week adopted a report, 'Pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment'.

Palmer says this represents a “positive development” in the European “Dying to Work” campaign he has championed.

The report includes the first explicit endorsement of the campaign and a call on the  European Commission to address what Palmer says is the lack of data concerning terminally ill people in the workplace.

Specifically the report, approved by MEPs during the Strasbourg plenary session, recognises that people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness retain the fundamental right to work and such individuals face a unique set of challenges relating to their employment, distinct from the challenges facing other patient groups.

This, it says, is because “there is often little time for them to adapt to their changing conditions and for workplace adjustments to be made.”

The report  commends the campaign for raising awareness of the problem and encourages employers to maintain as much dialogue as possible with employees who have received a terminal diagnosis “to ensure that all necessary and possible adaptations can be made to allow the employee to carry on working if he or she so wishes.”

Palmer says that for many patients remaining in the workplace is a “personal, psychological or economic imperative”.

He points out that the report urges member states to support the “reasonable adaptation of workplaces to the unique set of challenges facing this group of people.”

It also calls on the Commission to tackle the lack of data on the employment status of people with cancer and to support the collection of better data to improve support services for them.

 Palmer said, “This is a first formal recognition of the work of the EU or UK campaigns and a hugely positive step forward in highlighting this important set of issues. I would like to extend my thanks again to all colleagues we collaborated with in Brussels on this report.

 He says that a website for the “European Dying to Work” campaign,with new branding specifically for the MEP campaign group, has now up and running.

His office will coordinate a formal launch of the website on Thursday.

Palmer, a member of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, has invited people to tweet support for the campaign using the hashtag #dyingtoworkEU.

“All tweets containing this hashtag will be picked up by the feed on the new website's homepage.”

 A spokesman for the campaign said,”We are fighting for stronger employment protection for terminally ill workers at the European level to ensure that employers cannot use legal loopholes to dismiss the dying due to their illness. Every person battling terminal conditions deserves the choice of how to spend their final months.”

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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