Date Released: 25 September 2014
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has launched an important new guide on how best to assist workers diagnosed with breast cancer and other serious illnesses, during their treatment, recovery and return to work.
The guide was formally launched by An Tanaiste, Joan Burton TD and the event also heard from Bernice Galvin, a staff nurse and breast cancer survivor who has written about her experiences. and also from Michelle Monaghan, a radiographer in Connolly Hospital, Dublin.
The General Secretary of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) – Liam Doran – and Congress General Secretary David Begg, also participated.
The Congress guide aims to ensure that workers undergoing treatment or returning to the workplace after treatment are afforded all the necessary help and support in terms of agreeing time off and adapting work regimes.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Congress General Secretary David Begg said: “The publication of this guide illustrates the level of progress made over recent years, in terms of treatment and of better workplace policies.
“More than seven women a day are diagnosed with breast cancer and this condition can also affect men, but to a lesser degree.
“Even a decade ago, we would not be having conversations about people returning to work after treatment, even less about how we could best adapt their working environment following treatment. There is still a long way to go, but this represents significant success for trade unions, who have long campaigned for better treatment and screening for people affected.”
Congress Legal Affairs Officer Esther Lynch – who prepared the guide, with support from the INMO and SIPTU’s health division – said the aim of the publication was to assist workers and their unions to negotiate Time off Work Plans that minimise the financial impact of taking time off for treatment and recovery.
“We now know that there is life during and after cancer and the guide will hopefully make that experience a better one for those undergoing treatment.
“Help from the union to negotiate the necessary time off can make all the difference. An agreed Time off Work Plan can be of enormous help. Every person’s situation is unique but we know from talking to members that workers want more control and flexibility in how they take time off for treatment and recovery and more can be done to support workers when they return to work.
“People can and do return to a normal life after treatment, hopefully this guide will help in that,” she concluded.
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