The Dying to Work campaign started originally as a British campaign by the Trade Union Congress. The aim of the campaign is to give workers with an incurable disease a ‘protection period’ during which they cannot be dismissed because of their condition. As far as possible, this protection should give each person in the terminal stage of an incurable disease the choice of how they plan to spend their last few months, while ensuring that their jobs are protected and that their family’s financial security is maintained.
In order to raise awareness of the initiative at European level, a bipartisan group of MEPs was established in February. The aim of the Dying to Work MEP Focus Group is to promote the campaign at European level with the help of interested external parties.
The MEP Focus Group wants to establish protection against dismissal for terminally ill workers on the model of protection against the dismissal of pregnant workers in Europe pursuant to Directive 92/85/EEC of October 1992. At present, there is no protection under EU law for workers with an incurable illness. In the future, workers who meet the criteria of having an incurable disease should be protected against dismissal.
The group will:
- work with EU partners (e.g. trade unions and patient groups) on how to best meet campaign objectives under existing and ongoing legislation,
- help raise awareness of the issue across the EU27,
- explore ways to collect data across Europe to better understand the scale of the problem,
- encourage employers EU-wide to sign the campaign’s voluntary charter and
- identify ways to intervene in the European Parliament’s events and activities.
On 6 June 2018, the speaker of the MEP Focus Group also submitted parliamentary questions on the topic to raise the Commission's awareness. The following questions have been submitted to the Commission for written answer:
- What specific research is the Commission conducting, or has it conducted, on the experience in the workplace of employees with a terminal illness?
- What does the Commission intend to do to encourage employers to provide support to workers with a terminal illness?
- Will the Commission agree to meet with representatives of the Dying to Work EU campaign, including Members of the European Parliament working on the campaign, to discuss these matters further?
In its reply, the Commission stresses the importance of risk management, which must take account of the specific risks to which certain categories of workers are exposed and which require specific preventive and protective measures, e.g. for incurable diseases. In this context, the Commission refers to the assistance developed by EU-OSHA and its practical guide for employers and declares its readiness to meet with all the relevant interlocutors.