JIS News

Story Highlights

  • MLSS will be officially launching the National Policy on HIV and AIDS, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, on Monday, September 16.
  • The policy, which is currently in effect, is a regulation to the proposed Occupational, Safety and Health Act.
  • The policy was formulated through tripartite discussion to establish an appropriate framework to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace.

In response to the issue of HIV and AIDS within the workplace, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) will be officially launching the National Policy on HIV and AIDS, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston, on Monday, September 16, commencing at 6:30 p.m.

Director of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), at the Ministry, Robert Chung, informed JIS News that the policy, which is currently in effect, is a regulation to the proposed Occupational, Safety and Health Act, which is being implemented by the Ministry to address health and safety concerns in the workplace.

The policy was formulated through tripartite discussion (Government, employers and workers) to establish an appropriate framework to address HIV/AIDS in the workplace, guided by the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 10-point Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS.

This Code deals specifically with HIV/AIDS in the world of work, and includes some key principles. These are the recognition of HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue, non-discrimination, gender equality, prevention, care and support, social dialogue, a healthy work environment, as well as screening and confidentiality.

The OSH Director informed that every workplace is required to have the policy in place, and that it will be made available to both the private and public sectors islandwide, free of cost.

“From the launch, we are expecting adherence as it relates to the requirements of the policy. What we are promoting is effective social inclusion, so there will be no room for stigma and discrimination. It not only prevents employees from being fired, but it outlines how employers should treat persons living with HIV/AIDS within the workplace,” he said.

Mr. Chung pointed out that currently, there is no law that speaks to persons being penalized for not adhering to the policy. However, he said that under the new OSH Act, that is to be tabled in Parliament by year end, there will be substantial penalties if persons are found to be in breach of the Act.

“If employers do not comply with the regulations outlined in the OSH Act when it is passed, they will be severely penalized. The message that we are trying to send to both employers and employees is that persons who are affected by HIV and AIDS, should not be discriminated against, because of their status,” Mr. Chung said.

In addition, he noted that the launch will also provide the appropriate platform for a profile on the status of the passage of the OSH Act.

“The profile is really a document identifying all the things that Jamaica has in place to deal with Occupational Safety and Health. It also includes the laws and regulations, management systems and mechanisms within the various ministries to deal with OSH,” Mr. Chung explained.

For more information on OSH, persons can contact the Ministry at 922-9500-14, or 922- 0365.