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- The Problem
- HIV AIDS is a workplace issue
- What is the code of practice?
- What is the code aiming to achieve?
- Who might use the code?
-How might they use it?
- How you can use the code at the workplace?
- The code rests on two pillars
- Section 4. of the Code has Ten Key Principles
- The issue of testing
- Worker and family assistance
- Appendices
- What makes a policy work?
- Checklist


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Using the ILO Code of Practice HIV AIDS and the world of Work A workplace policy on HIV/AIDS: BWI guide for trade unions

The problem
Approximately 36 million people are infected with HIV, the great majority of them adults in formal or informal work Approximately 22 million people have already died of AIDS in the world.

HIV AIDS is a workplace issue
Because HIV/AIDS affects the work force and the enterprise:

• loss of income & benefits
• loss of skills & experience
• falling productivity
• reduced profit & investment

Because the workplace can help limit the spread and mitigate the impact of the epidemic:

• protect job security & rights
• ensure social protection
• offer care, support & treatment
• help prevention through education & peer support

What is the code of practice?
The ILO has developed a tripartite programme of action & a code of practice:

• A set of guidelines for governments, employers and workers to help them develop concrete responses to HIV/AIDS at the enterprise, community and national levels.

What is the code aiming to achieve?
It is aimed at the workplace to help:

• prevent the spread of HIV
• manage and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS
• provide care and support for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS
• combat the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS

Who might use the code?

National level
Union leadership
Union officials
Organisers for education, women’s programmes, health & safety

Regional & local organisers

At the workplace
Union representatives
Workplace committee
Health & safety committee

How might they use it?
It has a range of uses, including:

• Basis for union policy on HIV/AIDS
• Basis for advocacy with governments
• Basis for advocacy with employers to persuade them that AIDS is a workplace issue; that a workplace policy on AIDS is positive for employers and workers alike;
• Basis for developing a workplace agreement/policy on HIV/AIDs

How you can use the code at the workplace?

• If your workplace has no policy on HIV/AIDS, you can use the code to persuade your employer that one is necessary
• You can make sure that the ten key principles (section 4 of the code) are in your collective bargaining agreement
• You can use it to design or adapt an education programme
• You can use it to support/work towards gender equality
• You can use it to work out what measures should be put into place for the care, support and treatment of workers with HIV and related infections
• You can use it to build links with community organisations

The code rests on two pillars

• non discrimination & the protection of workers’ rights
• prevention, including care & support

Section 4. of the Code has Ten Key Principles:

4.1. Recognition of HIV/AIDS as a workplace issue HIV/AIDS is a workplace issue, and should be treated like any other serious
illness/condition in the workplace. This is necessary not only because it affects the
workforce, but also because the workplace, being part of the local community, has a role to play in the wider struggle to limit the spread and effects of the epidemic.

4.2. Non-discrimination In the spirit of decent work and respect for the human rights and dignity of persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, there should be no discrimination against workers on the basis of real or perceived HIV status. Discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS inhibits efforts aimed at promoting HIV/AIDS prevention.

4.3. Gender equality The gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS should be recognized. Women are more likely to become infected and are more often adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic than, men due to biological, socio-cultural and economic reasons. The greater the gender
discrimination in societies and the lower the position of women, the more negatively they
are affected by HIV. Therefore, more equal gender relations and the empowerment of
women are vital to successfully prevent the spread of HIV infection and enable women to
cope with HIV/AIDS.

4.4. Healthy work environment The work environment should be healthy and safe, so far as is practicable, for all concerned parties, in order to prevent transmission of HIV, in accordance with the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155). A healthy work environment facilitates optimal physical and mental health in relation
to work and adaptation of work to the capabilities of workers in light of their state of
physical and mental health.

4.5. Social dialogue The successful implementation of an HIV/AIDS policy and programme requires cooperation and trust between employers, workers and their representatives and government, where appropriate, with the active involvement of workers infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

4.6. Screening for purposes of exclusion from
employment or work processes
HIV/AIDS screening should not be required of job applicants or persons in

4.7. Confidentiality There is no justification for asking job applicants or workers to disclose HIV-related personal information. Nor should co-workers be obliged to reveal such personal
information about fellow workers. Access to personal data relating to a worker’s HIV
status should be bound by the rules of confidentiality consistent with the ILO’s code of
practice on the protection of workers’ personal data, 1997.

4.8. Continuation of employment relationship
HIV infection is not a cause for termination of employment. As with many other
conditions, persons with HIV-related illnesses should be able to work for as long as
medically fit in available, appropriate work.

4.9. Prevention HIV infection is preventable. Prevention of all means of transmission can be achieved through a variety of strategies which are appropriately targeted to national conditions and which are culturally sensitive. Prevention can be furthered through changes in behaviour, knowledge, treatment and the creation of a non-discriminatory environment. The social partners are in a unique position to promote prevention efforts particularly in relation to changing attitudes and behaviours through the provision of information and education, and in addressing socio-economic factors.

4.10. Care and support Solidarity, care and support should guide the response to HIV/AIDS in the world of work. All workers, including workers with HIV, are entitled to affordable health services. There should be no discrimination against them and their dependants in access to and receipt of benefits from statutory social security programmes and occupational schemes.

The issue of testing
No testing at the workplace except:

• At the request of workers themselves
• In the event of occupational exposure
• For purposes of anonymous epidemiological surveillance , and only with


Practical ideas for worker and family assistance

• offer practical help: compassionate leave, legal advice, and information. Assistance with accessing medical care, benefits and direct or indirect financial support where possible
• recognise that women normally take the major part of caring for those with AIDS-related illnesses
• respond to the needs of children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS

The role of training
The following can all help carry out the workplace programme – if they’re trained:

• Workers’ representatives
• Health & safety officers
• Union officials
• monitor impact & change plan as necessary

Using the appendices of the Code

The Code is a source of information on HIV/AIDS:

I. Basic facts about the epidemic and its effects:

• Infection and transmission
• Demographic and labour force impact
• Conditions that contribute to vulnerability
• The special needs of the informal sector
• The gender dimension

II Infection control in the workplace: universal precautions and guidelines

III Checklist for a workplace policy

IV-VII References including ILO Conventions, national & international guidelines, sectoral codes and education materials

Rights and responsibilities of employers and workers (Section 5 of the Code)

• consultation & collaboration on workplace policy
• adherence to national laws & local agreements
• information, education & training
• mitigating the economic impact
• non-discriminatory personnel policies & practices
• grievance procedures
• confidentiality
• risk reduction & management
• reasonable accommodation
• advocacy
• support for voluntary HIV counselling and testing
• programmes for workers in informal activities
• international partnerships

What makes a policy work?

• Consultation & responsiveness to needs
• Transparency
• Confidence of those concerned
• A strategy for implementation with a clear timetable, named implementing officers, and a budget

Checklist for planning and implementing a workplace policy

• set up an AIDS committee/give AIDS mandate to existing committee
• establish its terms of reference
• review existing legislation
• assess impact on & needs of workplace
• identify existing services & resources
• draft, circulate & finalise policy
• draw up budget & seek funds
• establish plan of action, with timetable, & identify everyone with responsibility for carrying out the plan
• disseminate policy
• implement plan of action