JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Addressing the negative impact of HIV and AIDS on the workforce continues to be among the top focus areas for the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) department in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
  • The foundation of the National Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS is based on 10 key principles indentified by the International Labour Organization (ILO) some of which include: non-discrimination, gender equality, confidentiality, continuation of employment and care and support.
  • The Ministry of Health covers the aspect of the HIV and AIDS programme that speaks to prevention and treatment of the virus across the country, while the Ministry of Labour and Social Security deals with the impact of the disease on the workforce.

Addressing the negative impact of HIV and AIDS on the workforce continues to be among the top focus areas for the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) department in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

OSH Director within the Ministry, Robert Chung, in an interview with JIS News, said the stigma and discrimination associated with the virus, has, over the years, “caused devastation and workplaces to become dysfunctional.” He said addressing the issue is vital to the advancement of the country.

“HIV and AIDS is a psychosocial hazard and it is important that we correct the issue so that the workplace and workforce are conducive not only to productivity but to development,” he argued.

“At present, we are working on several projects in the Ministry. We have our own internal programme that we hope to roll out in all public sector workplaces but we also have programmes that we are implementing in the private sector,” he informed.

The initiatives, Mr. Chung highlighted will “ensure that stigma and discrimination, which not only comes from HIV and AIDS but from other illnesses (is adequately addressed)”.

One such programme is the Voluntary Compliance Programme in which stakeholders and organisations are introduced to OSH best practices.

The OSH Director noted that by discriminating against workers with HIV and AIDS and other illnesses, the human resource capacity in workplaces is being depleted because “some of the best minds in our country” are not being utilized.

In the meantime, Acting Senior Legal Officer at the Ministry, Khadrea Folkes, informed that the National Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS, which received parliamentary approval in 2010 will be appended to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).

She said that “in addition to HIV and AIDS being an aspect of the substantive legislation, we are also going to be amending legislation that specifically speaks to the treatment of HIV and AIDS in the workplace”.

The foundation of the National Workplace Policy on HIV and AIDS is based on 10 key principles indentified by the International Labour Organization (ILO) some of which include: non-discrimination, gender equality, confidentiality, continuation of employment and care and support.

Ms. Folkes also said that the Ministry has received reports of employers and human resource managers, who have dismissed or refused to promote workers after receiving medical reports of HIV and AIDS diagnosis.

“A worker should not be separated from his employment on the basis of his HIV status. You can be HIV positive and still carry out your duties,” she stated.

The Ministry of Health covers the aspect of the HIV and AIDS programme that speaks to prevention and treatment of the virus across the country, while the Ministry of Labour and Social Security deals with the impact of the disease on the workforce.