Positive at Work
Since the introduction of anti-retroviral treatments, people living with HIV can generally expect to lead a full and productive working life.
Obviously, as with anyone, situations and circumstances can change and there may be times when people are not currently employed and may need assistance with benefits, job seeking, retraining etc.
Most people who are HIV positive report that their HIV status does not have a significant impact (if any) on their everyday working life. However, for others HIV related discrimination in the workplace can be a very real issue.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act provides protection from discrimination in a number of areas. In this Act, an HIV positive diagnosis is defined as a disability and as such provides a range of protections including in employment matters.
Some of the key protections offered by the Equality Act include:-
Generally, there is no legal obligation to disclose HIV status at work or to prospective employers. The Equality Act means that it is unlawful to ask questions about a candidate’s health or disability prior to making a job offer.
There are very few occupations where disclosure of HIV status is required and even fewer where people who are HIV positive are restricted from that particular profession. This includes the armed forces, airline pilots and some healthcare workers whose jobs include exposure prone procedures e.g. surgeons, dentists and midwives.
Employers need to make appropriate adjustments to cater for all their employees including people living with HIV. This can include giving paid time off to attend medical appointments that are directly related to an HIV diagnosis or the privacy and time needed to take medication during working hours. The ‘My HIV’ website has some useful and practical tips on this subject -
As part of the requirement to create a safe working environment for all, employers also have a duty to respond to any work based harassment that is rooted in HIV related stigma, prejudice or discrimination.
Sickness absence related to being HIV positive should be treated the same as any other illness and only if absences affect the ability to do a job/return to work should this become an issue.
For staff who need to take a significant amount of sick leave from work that is directly related to their HIV status it should be possible for an employer to make a reasonable adjustment and record any disability-related absences separately for the purpose of sickness absence records/procedures.
Local Support on Work Related Issues
If you have concerns or are experiencing difficulties or problems related to work and being HIV positive, the staff at The Forge Centre can provide advice and support on any of the issues detailed in this section.
NAT (National AIDS Trust) – briefings on HIV at Work, HIV and Recruitment & Employment Restrictions for Healthcare Workers with HIV
The Home Office – Equality Act guidance pages