Seven things you must do to reasonably accommodate your HIV+ employee and help protect his health

Ashley Churchyard, Fsp Business, 20 Nov. 2014

Tags: hiv at work, hiv in the workplace, hiv+ employees, managing hiv in your workplace, hiv management

You can’t discriminate against any employee or potential employee. This even applies to HIV+ employees.

In fact, you have to go out of your way to accommodate these employees if they need you to.

But this must be within reason. After all, if you start giving HIV+ employees special treatment, it could lead to serious workplace conflict with your other employees.

To help you give your HIV+ employees the help they need, without giving them preferential treatment, we’re giving you seven things you can do to reasonably accommodate these employees…

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Reduce the impact of HIV on your workforce
How you may ask?
By educating your employees on:
How to prevent HIV;
How to prevent spreading it;
How to work with HIV or Aids; and
How to manage HIV or Aids.
You can minimise the effect their health and HIV status has on your business!
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Here’s why HIV+ employees need to be accommodated 

According to the Employers Handbook on Managing HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, giving HIV+ employees workplace care and support can help them stay healthy and productive at work. 
This kind of care and support doesn’t need to cost you much. Many companies have their own health services in place that can offer counselling and care to HIV+ employees. If you don’t have such facilities, you need to be able to accommodate your employee’s health needs. 
That’s why the Health and Safety Advisor recommends you create a supportive environment at work. This will allow HIV+ employees to continue working under normal conditions in their current employment for as long as they’re medically fit to do so. 
But if you, for example, stop your employee from attending regular counselling sessions or doctor’s appointments, you’re preventing him from getting the help he needs to protect his mental and physical health.
This is unacceptable in terms of the OHS Act where you have a duty to ensure the health and safety of all your employees.
That’s why you should allow your HIV+ employees these seven things to reasonable accommodate them…

Reasonably accommodate your HIV+ employees by doing these seven things

1. If HIV+ employees are part of a support group they need to attend every week, change their work hours to allow them to attend.
2. If they’re on medication, create an environment where employees can make themselves something to eat when they take their medication.
3. If they work on night shift, ensure there’s a warm place for them to rest. HIV+ employees shouldn’t work in wet and cold conditions in case they pick up a cold that will compromise their health further.
4. When employees start taking ARVs, they could suffer side effects in the first few weeks. Be understanding and supportive to assist them during this time.
5. Ensure other employees don’t come to work with other illnesses, like flu, and make your HIV+ employees sick, as this could further impact their health.
6. Re-organise workstations to allow for a comfortable and safe workspace so their bodies aren’t under constant stain, especially if they feel weak.
7. Provide specialised supervision, training and support in your workplace to ensure these employees remain safe at work.
But remember to hold HIV+ employees accountable for their work. Don’t drop your expectations just because the employee is HIV+. After all, giving them care and support doesn’t mean you have to accept unproductive staff. 
And don’t let that care and support draw unnecessary attention to your HIV+ employee as this could lead to resentment from colleagues.
Accommodate your HIV+ employees within reasonable limits and they, as well as your business, will be able to continue being productive.

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