Fighting for rights of terminally-ill workers

Jacci Woodcock who is campaigning for a change in the law to protect people with terminal illnesses.
Jacci Woodcock who is campaigning for a change in the law to protect people with terminal illnesses.

A Milford woman with terminal cancer is spearheading a campaign to secure better employment rights for terminally-ill people.

Jacci Woodcock, 58, has recently become the face of ‘Dying to Work’, a campaign organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Jacci Woodcock who is campaigning for a change in the law to protect people with terminal illnesses.

Jacci Woodcock who is campaigning for a change in the law to protect people with terminal illnesses.

The former area sales manager is arguing for a change in the law to stop discrimination against those with terminal diagnoses.

She said: “When I got the terminal diagnosis in 2012 I didn’t want to stop working.

“It gave me dignity, stimulation and normality and I also needed the money, but the company I worked for tried to put lots of pressure on me to resign.

“So I went to my union and they found out for me that the disability discrimination legislation doesn’t cover terminal illness. After that I realised that the law wasn’t working properly.”

After Jacci came to a compromise agreement with her employer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, she began work on her campaign to change the law.

“I have a work brain really - I wasn’t going to just sit around and die,” she said.

“I have a very fair mind and I’m just surprised that somebody hasn’t done something about this before.”

“As a result of the campaign we now have the support of a blue-chip company in E.ON and that is quite a big thing because once one gets on board others follow.

“I have been on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show at the weekend and was on Radio Derby on Monday morning, and my lawyers are going to try to pursue the European route as well.”

Listening to the debate in the media at the moment, Jacci says she is ‘hopeful’ that she might see a change in the law before she dies.

And after Prime Minister David Cameron said he’d look into her case a few weeks ago, she says she will not let him ‘off the hook’.

She said: “Because I have been through so much I didn’t crack and it made me more determined to do something with the time I have left - I am not going to let it drop.”

Jacci is planning to attend the Labour and Conservative conferences in September and says the fact the campaign has cross-party backing means it has more chance of success.

“I know I am on borrowed time, but I still seem to keep going,” she added.

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.dyingtowork.co.uk.

Political and business support

Jacci’s campaign has recently been taken up by Mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham, who she says has been ‘fantastic’.

Mrs Latham said: “It is incredibly distressing to hear Jacci’s story and I know she is not the only one who has been put through such a terrible ordeal.

“Therefore, I fully support the Dying to Work campaign and I encourage businesses to sign up to ensure that the current law is changed.”

The MP recently asked a question in the House of Commons to Prime Minister David Cameron, who promised to look ‘very carefully’ at Jacci’s circumstances.

If the worst does happen before the law is changed, Jacci says she will leave the campaign in the hands of her daughter, Jaime, and her three grandsons.

In the absence of a change in the law, the TUC is encouraging businesses to sign up to their voluntary charter, and already have energy giant E.ON on side.