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HR | Employment Law | Health & Safety

01244 893776

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HR | Employment Law | Health & Safety

Supporting Employees With HIV and AIDS

James Rowland

James Rowland

Commercial Director

Supporting Employees With HIV and AIDS

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Employees with HIV/AIDS face unique challenges in the workplace, and employers need to provide them with support and accommodations to help them perform their job duties effectively.

Read on for simple tips on how you can create an inclusive and accepting workplace culture that accepts and educates employees about HIV/AIDS.

What Can Employers Do To Support Employees Living With HIV/AIDS

HR teams and managers can support employees with HIV and AIDS by taking the following actions:

  1. Providing a supportive work environment: Employers should ensure that employees with HIV and AIDS are treated with respect and dignity. This can be achieved by educating all employees on the disease and dispelling any myths or misconceptions about it.
  2. Ensuring confidentiality: Employers should ensure that the employee’s confidentiality is maintained at all times. This includes keeping their medical condition private and not sharing it with other employees unless the employee has given permission.
  3. Providing reasonable accommodations: Employers should work with the employee to determine if any reasonable accommodations can be made to help them perform their job duties. This may include adjusting their work schedule, providing additional breaks, or modifying their work environment.
  4. Review policies: Employers should also ensure that their workplace policies are up-to-date and reflect the changing needs of employees living with HIV/AIDS. This includes reviewing processes for hiring, promotion, leave systems and performance management, as well as making sure that there are no discriminatory practices in place.
  5. Support staff living with the conditions: Providing access to confidential counselling services, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), can help employees manage the emotional and physical impact of living with HIV/AIDS. Employers should also ensure that their insurance plans provide adequate coverage for HIV-related care, such as medication and treatment costs.
  6. Direct employees with HIV/AIDS to additional resources: Employers can encourage their employees to seek out support from other organisations dedicated to helping those living with HIV/AIDS. Such organisations may also assist in navigating the legal and medical landscape associated with HIV/AIDS.
  7. Educating employees on employment laws related to HIV and AIDS: Employers should support employee organisations that focus on HIV/AIDS awareness and advocacy. By doing so, employers can create an environment of acceptance and understanding for all employees affected by HIV/AIDS. Such initiatives also provide a platform for sharing information about prevention strategies and treatments available to people living with HIV/AIDS.
  8. Be aware of responsibilities under employment Law: Employers must be aware of and act in accordance with relevant employment laws related to HIV and AIDS in the UK. These include;
  • Equality Act 2010: This law prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics, including disability. An employee with HIV or AIDS is considered disabled under the Equality Act, and employers must make reasonable adjustments to help them perform their job.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): These laws ensure that an employee’s medical information is kept confidential and is only shared with those who have a legitimate reason to know.
  • The Employment Rights Act 1996: This act provides employees with rights, including protection against unfair dismissal, and the right to take time off for dependents or their own medical appointments.

Understanding HIV and AIDs

Understanding HIV and AIDs

There are lots of misconceptions about these viruses that can lead to social stigma, discrimination and isolation. Employers should take time to educate themselves on the facts about HIV and AIDS so that they can better support their employees living with these conditions. This could include attending seminars or reading up on resources from reliable sources such as BHIVA (British HIV Association) or NAZ (National AIDS Trust).

  • HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is responsible for protecting the body against infections and diseases. When left untreated, HIV can weaken the immune system to the point where the body can no longer fight off infections and diseases.
  • AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most severe stage of HIV infection, where the immune system is severely weakened, and the person becomes vulnerable to life-threatening infections and cancers.
  • There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS but with appropriate medical care and treatment, people with HIV/AIDS can manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.

What Are Workers Required To Do?

In the UK, workers with HIV/AIDS have the same workplace responsibilities as any other employee, with a few additional considerations to protect their own, and others, health and safety. Employers should make sure they are aware of these requirements so they make it as easy as possible for staff living with HIV/AIDS to meet them.

  • Whilst workers with HIV/AIDS are not legally required to disclose their medical condition to their employer, they may choose to do so. If they have shared their condition, employers have a legal obligation to maintain confidentiality regarding their medical status.
  • Workers with HIV/AIDS have a responsibility to adhere to their employer’s health and safety policies, including infection control measures, to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the workplace.
  • Workers with HIV/AIDS have a responsibility to report any health and safety concerns related to their medical condition to their employer. Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for their employees.
  • Workers with HIV/AIDS have a responsibility to attend medical appointments as required for their treatment and care. Employers have a legal obligation to provide employees with time off for medical appointments, as outlined in the Employment Rights Act 1996.
  • Workers with HIV/AIDS have a right to request reasonable accommodations to enable them to perform their job duties effectively. This may include adjustments to their work schedule or environment, as well as access to support services.

Summary

Employers must provide equal opportunities and reasonable accommodations for workers with HIV/AIDS, and must not discriminate against them based on their medical condition. By following the actions outlined above and educating employees on relevant employment laws in the UK, HR teams and business leaders can successfully support employees living with HIV and AIDS to ensure that they are treated fairly and with respect in the workplace.

Next Steps 

Employers need to ensure that they have the right policies, processes and support in place to ensure a safe, non-discriminatory, and supportive work environment for employees living with HIV/AIDS. This includes addressing workplace confidentiality, providing reasonable accommodations, such as changes in job duties or hours, as well as offering education on HIV/AIDS.

If you would like support with managing your responsibilities when it comes to supporting members of your team living with HIV & Aids, please call 01244 893776 to speak to one of our team.

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