MEPs back Labour campaign to help workers get support to return to work after recovering from illness

The European Parliament voted yesterday for a report calling for national governments to ensure workers have the support they need to return to work after recovering from illness and injury, and for workplaces to be more adaptable and inclusive to people suffering chronic conditions and disabilities.

The report endorses the Dying to Work campaign – which Labour MEPs recently launched at EU level – for raising awareness about these problems and encouraging employers to maintain as much dialogue as possible with employees who have received a terminal diagnosis and ensure any necessary changes are made to allow the employee to carry on working if he or she so wishes. The campaign calls for terminal illness to be recognised as a ‘protected characteristic’ so an employee with a terminal illness would enjoy a ‘protected period’ where they could not be dismissed as a result of their condition.

Other recommendations backed by MEPs include systematically monitoring, managing and supporting workers affected by psychosocial risks; targeted additional benefits for people with disabilities or chronic diseases covering extra costs, personal support and assistance, and the use of specific facilities and medical and social care; more flexible working arrangements; and greater awareness of occupational rehabilitation and return-to-work policies and programmes.

Rory Palmer MEP, Labour’s spokesperson on the report, said:

“Yesterday’s vote is a signal to governments across the EU, including in Britain, to take action on this vital issue and bring in measures that will make life that little bit better for workers diagnosed with terminal illness and those suffering chronic conditions.

“The Dying to Work campaign’s recommendations need to be implemented in full, including workplaces adapting and employers showing more flexibility to allow workers to carry on working if they wish. Remaining in the workplace is a personal, psychological or economic imperative and central to people’s dignity and quality of life.

“This report directly reflects the aims of the Dying to Work campaign, and is testament to the positive and progressive work Labour MEPs continue to achieve in the European Parliament despite Brexit.”