HIV/AIDS in the Workplace

All about HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, Workplace Policy, HIV/AIDS discrimination and stigma, HIV/AIDS Programmes and more on Mywage South Africa.

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According to UNAIDS fact sheets on HIV/AIDS, there are currently 5 700 000 South Africans living with HIV. Correspondingly, the HIV/AIDS epidemic affects virtually every workplace. Lengthy staff illness, absenteeism, and death are having a marked influence on productivity, employee benefits, occupational health and safety, costs and workplace morale.

HIV/AIDS knows no social, gender, age or racial boundaries; however women are particularly more vulnerable in situations where they have little control over their lives.

Prejudice

HIV/AIDS is a disease surrounded by ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and stigma. In the workplace, unfair discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS is continued through practices such as pre-employment HIV testing, dismissals for being HIV positive and denial of employee benefits – all of which are illegal.

One of the most effective ways of reducing and managing the impact of HIV/AIDS in the workplace is through an HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy. Through this, employers, trade unions and government can contribute towards efforts to prevent and control HIV/AIDS. 

Code of Good Practice

In light of this, the Department of Labour has published a Code of Good Practice called Key Aspects of HIV and Employment. The Code is issued in terms of Section 54(1)(a) of the Employment Equity Act, No 55 of 1998 and is based on the principle that no person may be unfairly discriminated against on the basis of their HIV status.

This Code gives employers and trade unions guidelines to ensure that people who are HIV positive or who have AIDS are not unfairly discriminated against in the workplace. It deals with:

  • Creating a non-discriminatory work environment
  • HIV testing, confidentiality and disclosure
  • Providing equitable employee benefits
  • Dismissals
  • Managing grievance procedures

The Code also provides guidelines for employers, employees and trade unions on how to manage HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

Employers and employer organisations should include the Code in their orientation, education and training programmes of employees.

Trade unions should also include the Code in their education and training programmes of shop stewards and employees.

For a copy of the Code, visit the Department of Labour website in the section Key Aspects of HIV and Employment.

For HIV/AIDS advice

  • The AIDS Helpline number is 0800 012 322.
  • HIV911 is an organisation that has a comprehensive directory of HIV services in South Africa. Their number is 0860 448 911.
  • The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is an advocacy and advice group. Visit the TAC website or phone their national line 021 422 1700. They have offices around the country.
  • If you are depressed and need to talk to someone, LifeLine's number is 0861 322 322.

Read more

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