State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, has said that it will soon become mandatory for companies to put an HIV/AIDS workplace policy in place.
“I wish to make it clear that we foresee legal implications, in that it will become obligatory for companies to develop and implement an HIV/AIDS policy,” he said.
Mr. Gallimore was addressing the 4th Pan Caribbean Business Coalition Forum on HIV/AIDS held yesterday (June 12) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on the University of the West Indies Mona campus, under the theme: ‘HIV prevention in the Caribbean – private sector as critical partners’.
A joint select committee of Parliament is examining the Green Paper on the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy, which is aimed at reducing stigma associated with the disease and protecting against discrimination in the workplace. The policy, Mr. Gallimore stated, will provide for support and grievance systems, education, treatment and care, among other measures. The Labour Ministry will have oversight responsibility for the structures to support the implementation of the policy, which will be appended to the proposed Occupational, Safety and Health Act.
“It is anticipated that the (joint select committee) will have a sitting (this month) when the report will be finalised. Subsequently, the document will be presented in Parliament and we expect approval within the next few months,” Mr. Gallimore informed.
State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore (C), listens attentively to Chairman of the Jamaica Business Council on HIV/AIDS (JaBCHA), Earl Moore (R) at the 4th Pan Caribbean Business Coalition forum on HIV/AIDS held yesterday (June 12) at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on the University of the West Indies Mona campus. At left is United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean, Sir George Alleyne.
In the meantime, he indicated that the Ministry has already put steps in place to reduce stigma and discrimination in the workplace, and urged public and private sector agencies to make use of the Workplace Voluntary Compliance Programme for occupational safety, health, HIV and AIDS.
It is one of the measures being implemented by the Ministry to get organisations to voluntarily join the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programme, before the passage of the Occupational, Safety and Health Act.
Enterprises that enroll in the programme will receive guidance and support materials to assist them in developing and implementing occupational, safety, health and HIV/AIDS programmes.
“Over 50 companies have been awarded under this programme for ensuring that workers (benefit from) modern, up-to-date programmes to prevent stigma and discrimination, among other things,” Mr. Gallimore informed.
He further challenged business leaders to support initiatives concerned with HIV and AIDS and to begin to accept and employ persons regardless of their status. “This will help to remove the stigma and discrimination and assist in stabilising families,” he pointed out, while also urging investment in staff training. “These are all simple support that can help to reduce the spread of the virus,” he added.
The Office of the Prime Minister along with the Ministries, have already launched HIV/AIDS workplace policies.