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What to do if an employee with Aids becomes too sick to work

by , 02 August 2013
The Code of Good Practice on HIV and Aids says you can't unfairly discriminate against an employee who has HIV or Aids. But what happens when this employee becomes too ill to work and, as a result, company productivity is affected? Read on to find out what to do...

'You have a general obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to provide and maintain a working environment that's safe and without risk to the health of your employees,' says The Health and Safety Club Site.

While HIV/Aids is no longer a death sentence due to awareness and effective treatment, there's still a very real possibility that your employees with the virus could become too sick to work.

Would you know how to act in this situation without violating your employee's rights?

Has your employee with Aids become too sick to work?

As you know, you can't dismiss your employee on the basis of his HIV and Aids status.

But, if your employee becomes too ill to work, you can deal with him on the basis of his incapacity to work. BUT, you must follow the guidelines regarding dismissal for incapacity before terminating his employee's services, warns the Health and Safety Advisor.

This means you must create a supportive environment so your HIV-infected employee can continue doing his job for as long as he's medically fit to do so.

Remember, you have a duty to make reasonable accommodation for employees who are HIV positive. This means you must accommodate him when the work or the work environment changes or when he becomes sick.

Here are examples of reasonable accommodation:

  • If employees who've disclosed their HIV status to you are part of a support group they need to attend every week, change their work hours to allow them attend the support group.
  • If they're on medication, create an environment where employees can make themselves something wholesome to eat when taking their medication.
  • Ensure there's a warm place for them to rest during night shifts. Remember, HIV positive employees mustn't be exposed to wet and cold conditions as they could pick up a cold that could compromise their health.

Knowing what to do if your employee with HIV/Aids becomes too sick to work will ensure you act within the bounds of the law to accommodate him. What's more, you'll ensure productivity isn't affected.

Turn to chapter H10 of your Health and Safety Advisor to discover the six ways to help to prevent HIV in the workplace.


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