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Terminal illness protection for employees triggers Tory and Labour row in Preston

Posted on - 1st July, 2018 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Lea, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
A doctor checks the blood pressure of a patient Pic: Alterfines
A doctor checks the blood pressure of a patient Pic: Alterfines

A Conservative councillor has criticised the city’s Labour group for an ’embarrassing’ motion about protecting the rights of those with a terminal illness.

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Lea councillor Martin McKeever put forward an alternative motion about ‘Dying to Work’ which deals with the rights of those diagnosed with a terminal illness while still working.

At Thursday’s (28 June) full council meeting at the Town Hall the Labour group voted against Cllr McKeever’s proposal, and the original motion was put through.

What the Tories had to say

Cllr McKeever said: “Labour pushed through a motion that effectively resolved to do what the law says our Labour run Council should already be doing.

“I was embarrassed by this and deeply disappointed that every Labour Councillor voted against my constructive amendment that attempted to refocus the motion on tangible improvements we could make in Preston.

“These opportunities to improve have been swept aside in favour of a wishy washy motion that does not identify a single tangible improvement action.”

Read more: What we learned from the 2018 local elections in Preston

What Labour had to say in response

Leader of the city council councillor Matthew Brown said: “Our motion says clearly those who receive a terminal diagnosis should not be forced out of work. This will add extra safeguards for council employees and continues to build on the very positive workplace culture we have in Preston City Council.

“The reference to trade union propaganda from the Conservatives is disappointing. Trade unions are at the cutting edge of depending vulnerable workers against bad employment practice and sadly press reports confirm a small number of terminally ill employees have been unfairly dismissed in recent years.”

Councillor Mark Yates, who tabled the original motion, said: “The Conservative Group on PCC clearly have no understanding of current employment law and there only answer to anybody who was dismissed due to an terminal illness was to go to an industrial tribunal this just showed the compassionate side of Preston Tories how anybody can vote against protecting people with a terminal illness is beyond me I’m sure the people of Preston and PCC employees will make their own judgment on them.”

Read more: The Preston Model in the national spotlight again on the Jeremy Vine show

What the original motion said

This Council notes that terminally ill employees are not currently protected under national disability legislation and can therefore be dismissed if they are no longer able to conduct their role with reasonable adjustments. This can mean that terminally ill people can be subjected to stressful assessments, subsequent dismissal and the loss of death in service benefits – all following the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

This Council believes in the dignity of work, and that those receiving a terminal diagnosis should not be forced out of work.

This Council believes that there should be additional Government protection for terminally ill employees, from the point of diagnosis.

This Council resolves to treat staff members who receive a terminal diagnosis with dignity, and to make adjustments to ensure that they are able to stay in work as long
as possible.

What Cllr McKeever proposed

This Council notes that terminally ill employees can suffer from treatment that is inconsistent with the intent of national legislation if they are no longer able to conduct their role. This can mean that terminally ill people can be subjected to unfair and inappropriate treatment following the diagnosis of a terminal illness.

This Council believes in the dignity of work, and that those receiving a terminal diagnosis should not be forced out of work when they wish to continue and are able to do so with reasonable adjustments.

This Council believes that there should be additional Government guidance for employers that seeks to protect terminally ill employees from unfair or inappropriate treatment and improve understanding of this legislation and outcomes for all employees involved.

This Council resolves to treat staff members who receive a terminal diagnosis with dignity, and to jointly identify and implement reasonable adjustments to ensure that the employee is able to stay in work as long as possible.

This Council resolves:

a) To recognise the broader implications to other employees and provide better training and support to line managers and impacted colleagues to improve implementation and outcomes for all involved.

b) to ask Employment Committee to consider what changes are necessary to ensure that all our staff are treated equally.

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