|Your Health and Safety at Work: A Collection of Modules - Aids and the Workplace (ILO, 1996, 84 p.)|
The Consultation dealt with occupations and occupational settings in which the work does not involve a risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV between workers, from worker to client, or from client to worker; it did not consider occupational situations such as those of health workers, in which a recognized risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV may occur.
III. Policy principles
Protection of the human rights and dignity of HIV-infected persons, including persons with AIDS, is essential to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. Workers with HIV infection who are healthy should be treated the same as any other worker. Workers with HIV-related illness, including AIDS, should be treated the same as any other worker with an illness.
Most people with HIV/AIDS want to continue working, which enhances their physical and mental well-being and they should be entitled to do so. They should be enabled to contribute their creativity and productivity in a supportive occupational setting.
The World Health Assembly resolution (WHA41.24) entitled, "Avoidance of discrimination in relation to HIV-infected people and people with AIDS" urges Member States:
"...(1) to foster a spirit of understanding and compassion for HIV-infected people and people with AIDS...;
(2) to protect the human rights and dignity of HIV-infected people and people with AIDS... and to avoid discriminatory action against, and stigmatization of them in the provision of services, employment and travel;
(3) to ensure the confidentiality of HIV testing and to promote the availability of confidential counselling and other support services..."
The approach taken to HIV/AIDS and the workplace must take into account the existing social and legal context, as well as national health policies and the Global AIDS Strategy.
IV. Policy development and implementation
Consistent policies and procedures should be developed at national and enterprise levels through consultations between workers, employers and their organizations, and where appropriate, governmental agencies and other organizations. It is recommended that such policies be developed and implemented before HIV-related questions arise in the workplace.
Policy development and implementation is a dynamic process, not a static event. Therefore, HIV/AIDS workplace policies should be:
(a) communicated to all concerned;
(b) continually reviewed in the light of epidemiological and other scientific information;
(c) monitored for their successful implementation;
(d) evaluated for their effectiveness.
V. Policy components
A. Persons applying for employment: Pre-employment HIV/AIDS screening as part of the assessment of fitness to work is unnecessary and should not be required. Screening of this kind refers to direct methods (HIV testing) or indirect methods (assessment of risk behaviours) or to questions about HIV tests already taken. Pre-employment HIV/AIDS screening for insurance or other purposes raises serious concerns about discrimination and merits close and further scrutiny.
B. Persons in employment:
1. HIV/AIDS screening: HIV/AIDS screening, whether direct (HIV testing), indirect (assessment of risk behaviours) or asking questions about tests already taken, should not be required.
2. Confidentiality: Confidentiality regarding all medical information, including HIV/AIDS status, must be maintained.
3. Informing the employer: There should be no obligation on the employee to inform the employer regarding his or her HIV/AIDS status.
4. Protection of employee: Persons in the workplace affected by, or perceived to be affected by HIV/AIDS, must be protected from stigmatization and discrimination by co-workers, unions, employers or clients. Information and education are essential to maintain the climate of mutual understanding necessary to ensure this protection.
5. Access to services for employees: Employees and their families should have access to information and educational programmes on HIV/AIDS, as well as to relevant counselling and appropriate referral.
6. Benefits: HIV-infected employees should not be discriminated against including access to and receipt of benefits from statutory social security programmes and occupationally related schemes.
7. Reasonable changes in working arrangements: HIV infection by itself is not associated with any limitation in fitness to work. If fitness to work is impaired by HIV-related illness, reasonable alternative working arrangements should be made.
8. Continuation of employment relationship: HIV infection is not a cause for termination of employment. As with many other illnesses, persons with HIV-related illnesses should be able to work as long as medically fit for available, appropriate work.
9. First aid: In any situation requiring first aid in the workplace, precautions need to be taken to reduce the risk of transmitting bloodborne infections, including hepatitis B. These standard precautions will be equally effective against HIV transmission.