Life-limiting illnesses in the workplace

Palliative Care Tasmania has developed 2 toolkits specific to life-limiting illness in the workplace. The first is a guide written specifically for employees within the workplace and the second is written specifically for managers and HR professionals.


When faced with the prospect of our own death (or the death of someone we are caring for), most people find it very difficult to articulate their wants and
needs – this includes in the workplace.

This practically-oriented toolkit has been written specifically for you as an employee, when you have been given a terminal diagnosis (referred to as a lifelimiting illness). The information can also be relevant to employees who have the responsibility of caring for someone with such a diagnosis.

We hope this toolkit provides key practical advice on subjects including decision making, planning, having productive conversations and how to find suitable support resources and information.


…acknowledgement of the inevitability of death, and preparation for it, have largely lost their place in our culture. For many, an almost child-like faith in medicine and science has taken its place.

We know from the work of the Grattan Institute in their report “Dying Well”1 and other research that, at a community level, Australians are not comfortable talking about death. We see this in the discomfort of many health professionals when discussing a terminal illness diagnosis with their patients and in how willing people are to plan for, and document, their end-of-life care wishes. And yet the number of deaths in Australia is estimated to double in the next 25 years as our population ages3. This means an increasing number of people will be impacted by terminal illness, referred to as a life-limiting illness, when still in the workplace. While some individuals who are working will be diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, a greater number will become responsible for caring for a loved one with such an illness.

Please use this toolkit as a basis for starting conversations and consultation within your organisation. Use it to develop and implement policies and training to foster a caring and positive workplace that builds a supportive culture for employees involved in end-of-life care.