More than twenty years after the first case of HIV Aids were reported, the issue of discrimination of HIV Aids infected workers continue to elicit mixed reactions in most organizations. Discrimination, at the work place is common all over the world, although it may manifest itself differently depending on the organization. According to an International Labour Organization, ILO (6) report “Global Report on HIV Pandemic”, “HIV infected employees suffer stigma which could be in the form of ridicule or social isolation and in some cases their employment might be terminated.
” This essay will be highlighting the issue of HIV Aids discrimination at the work place by assessing the existing divergences on this issue. The problem of HIV Aids discrimination at the work place has become more pertinent because of the serious negative effects on individual and overall performance of organizations. The impacts of AIDS on employees at the work place are very considerable to the extent that it has led to the deaths of skilled and educated personnel.
HIV Aids is a normal disease that is just like any other and therefore we need to deal with those that are infected with lots of understanding. All over the world, governments have realized the impacts of HIV Aids and put across legislations meant to address this issue. In South Africa, the Employment Equity Act made it illegal for the majority of Government departments to carry out pre-employment HIV testing (ILO 22). Many countries have integrated HIV policy that protects those infected in their policies on employment so as to curb discrimination.
However some countries still have legislations that are discriminatory. Cases of deportation of expatriates with HIV/AIDS have been reported in the United Arab Emirates UAE, (Rahimi 17) hence bringing to fore challenges that are brought about by these variations. Discrimination against workers infected with AIDS is unacceptable within organizations and is punishable by law. This allows for infected and able workers to contribute to the economy and towards leading a normal life.
AIDS and other related infections can be addressed in the workplace through the formation of a committee that will promote the implementation of non-discriminatory policies in the workplace against infected employees. The committee develops policies on HIV/AIDS that aim at addressing the plight of infected persons and their welfare in the workplace. The program will contain policies that address employment issues of the infected employees. The program is communicated to all departments of the organization to give employees a chance to familiarize themselves on the disease.
The support of the top management is necessary for the successful implementation of the HIV/AIDS program. The HIV/AIDS workplace policy components that guide the employer in dealing with the infected employees to ensure they are respected, their status kept confidential and they are treated like any other employee. The policy also prohibits the employee from conducting tests on prospective employees. The committee should develop an education program which will offer education to the employees about HIV/AIDS to avoid misunderstanding between the employees.
The employees should understand the facts to avoid discriminating infected employees. By understanding how the disease can and cannot be transmitted will reduce discrimination in the workplace. The program will also inform the employees on their rights regarding their employment and any form of discrimination. The education program should also provide for ways to avoid the spread of the disease and ensuring the safety of the employees. This will help in avoiding stigmatization of infected employees. The program should also offer support through guidance and counseling the infected.
The education should offer for evaluation on its effectiveness towards reducing discrimination and fighting the disease in the workplace. Mellow recommends on the evaluation of tasks and activities performed by the employees to ensure their safety. Employees who are always in contact with body fluids face a high risk of getting infected and the company should consider providing them with the necessary safety equipment. The committee should also develop the infection control program that aims at reducing infections in the workplace.
Already infected employees are informed on how to conduct themselves to avoid spreading infections in the workplace. The applicability of the program is confined to situations where the employees can get infected while conducting their normal duties. The employees are provided with protective gear that shields them from spreading or getting infected with the disease. The program informs the employees on how to clean their protective equipment to avoid transmissions to unsuspecting employees (48).
Discrimination amongst employees with AIDS violates the basic human right to work and the fundamental principles to work. This further affects the measures to prevent further spread of the disease. The loss of skilled employees due to their positive status result to low production of the organization and as the operation costs rise higher. To resolve the HIV/AIDS issue in the workplace should be approached carefully by observing the workers rights. The workers should be involved in decision making and the formulation of policies about the issue in their work environment.
This will avoid rejection by the employees of the HIV/AIDS program once it starts to be adopted. The employees should also be made to understand why it is important for the company to adopt such a program. Participation by all the factions of the organization will provide for its successful adoption. The employees should also be provided with the necessary equipment to reduce their exposure towards contracting the disease. The organization should also respect decisions by workers to reject an activity due to high exposure towards contacting the disease.
The mere excuse of refusing to perform an activity because a colleague is infected does not validate it. However, where lack of protective gear is cited the employee has got reason to refuse performing the activity. Workers also have the right to know areas in the workplace that highly expose them towards getting infected with the disease. In implementing the education program, the committee should oversee the placing of warning signs in the organization informing employees of the underlying danger.
Anti-discriminatory policies on HIV at the work place however face immense criticism from various quarters who argue that they just bring in unnecessary costs and sometimes are used to protect non-performers. A point put forward is that in most cases there is reduced production when it comes to those that are infected, hence either putting employers in a dilemma of facing the wrath of being sued or facing the wrath of trade unions if they terminate the employee or retaining the employer and incurring extra costs.
These opposing camps further posit that these workers are always a source of conflict with other workers; which leads to reduced overall performance. Some employees might feel uncomfortable working around them, an issue most organizations have ignored. Generally this state of affairs can be seen in most organizations throughout the world, but the extent of discrimination from different organizations. Conclusion The development of a HIV/AIDS program aims at ensuring that infected workers get a chance to lead a normal life while serving the nation. The program starts by formulating a company’s HIV/AIDS policy with the help of the workers.
This will lead to the quick implementation of the program without facing any opposition. The next step is the formation of an education program that educates the workers on the facts about the disease and how to protect themselves. The program also sees the provision of safety equipment and the identification of areas that pose great risk of infection to employees. The programs should then be continually evaluated to check on their effectiveness in containing the disease. If the program is ineffective then changes are made to improve on its effectiveness.
There is need to understand that no policy or legal framework can fully address the issue of HIV at the work place. Appropriate communication mechanisms are needed at the work place especially when it comes to confronting the fears and attitudes that continue hampering effective and sustained policies that protect employees infected with HIV Aids. Works Cited International Labor Organization. Global Report on HIV Pandemic Geneva: ILO, 2005. Mello J. A. AIDS and the Law of the Workplace. New York: West view Press, 2006. Rahimi, S. The UAE’s New Fight against HIV. New York: Penguin, 2007.
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