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Employment Equity Act, 1998 (Act No. 55 of 1998)

Code of Good Practice

HIV and Aids and the World of Work

8. Promoting a Healthy and Safe Working Environment


Prevention strategies must be adapted to national conditions and the type of workplace and must take into account gender, cultural, vulnerable populations, social and economic concerns.


8.1 Prevention Programmes


Workplace prevention programmes must ensure:

(a) That accurate and up to date relevant and timely information is made available and accessible to all in a culturally sensitive format and language through the different channels of communication available;
(b) Comprehensive education programmes to help women and men understand and reduce the risk of all modes of HIV transmission. This must include mother-to-child transmission and to understand the importance of changing risk behaviours related to infection;
(c) Effective occupational safety and health measures, including harm-reduction strategies;
(d) Measures to encourage workers to know their own HIV status through voluntary counseling and testing;
(e) Access to all means of prevention, including male and female condoms, medical male circumcision, elimination of mother-to-child transmission and where appropriate information about correct use and the availability of post-exposure prophylaxis; and
(f) Effective measures to reduce high-risk behaviours, including for the most at-risk groups with a view to decreasing the incidence of HIV and AIDS.


8.2 Treatment, Care and Support


8.2.1 Employers must ensure that workplace policies and programmes pertaining to health interventions are determined in consultation with workers and their representatives and should be linked to public health services.


8.2.2 Employers must ensure that those workers and their dependants living with HIV and AIDS related illnesses benefit from access to health care, whether this is provided under public health, social security systems or private insurance or other schemes.


8.2.3 All persons covered by this Code, including workers and their dependants living with HIV and AIDS, must be entitled to health services in terms of clause 8.2.2 of this Code including access to free or affordable:
(a) Voluntary counseling and testing;
(b) Antiretroviral treatment and adherence education, information and support;
(c) Nutrition consistent with treatment requirements;
(d) Treatment for opportunistic infections and STIs, and any HIV-related illnesses, in particular tuberculosis; and
(e) Support and prevention programmes including psychosocial support.


8.2.4 Programmes of care and support must include measures of reasonable accommodation in the workplace for workers living with HIV or HIV-related illnesses.


8.2.5 Care and support are critical elements that must guide a workplace in responding to HIV and AIDS.  Mechanisms must be created to encourage openness, acceptance and support for workers infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and to ensure that they are not unfairly discriminated against nor stigmatised.


8.2.6 Workplaces must endeavour to provide counseling and other forms of social support to workers infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. Where health-care services exist at the workplace, appropriate treatment must be provided. Where these services are not possible, workers must be informed about the location of available outside services.


8.2.7 Workers with HIV and AIDS must be treated no less favourably than workers with other serious illnesses in terms of benefits, workers' compensation and reasonable accommodation.


8.2.8 Workers with HIV and AIDS should be encouraged to use expertise and assistance from within the organisation for counseling. Where this is not available, employers may then acquire the necessary assistance and expertise from the outside.


8.3 Occupational Health and Safety


8.3.1 An employer is obligated to provide and maintain a workplace that is safe and without risk to the health of its workers.


8.3.2 HIV and AIDS must form an integral part of any workplace Occupational Health and Safety strategy.


8.3.3 The working environment must be safe and healthy in order to prevent transmission of HIV and TB in the workplace.


8.3.4 Every workplace must ensure that it complies with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including the Regulations on Hazardous Biological Agents and the Mine Health and Safety Act. Every workplace must also ensure that its policy deals with, amongst others, the risk of transmission, appropriate training, awareness, education on the use of universal infection control measures so as to identify, deal with and reduce the risk of HIV transmission in the workplace.


8.3.5 All workers must be made aware of the procedures to be followed in applying for compensation for occupational infections and diseases and the reporting of all occupational accidents.


8.3.6 Health and safety measures adopted at the workplace to prevent workers' exposure to HIV and TB and to minimise the risk of such workers contracting HIV and TB, must include universal precautions, accident and hazard prevention strategies, work practice control, personal protective equipment, environmental control measures and post exposure prophylaxis.
8.3.7 Employers, workers and their organizations must take responsibility for contributing towards a safe and healthy working environment as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act.


8.4 Children and Young Persons


8.4.1 Government, employers and workers, including their organisations, must adopt appropriate measures to combat child labour and child trafficking that may result from the death or illness of family members or caregivers due to HIV and AIDS and to reduce the vulnerability of children to HIV and AIDS and TB. This is considered in view of the relevant International, Regional and National standards on Fundamental Principles and Rights of children and young persons. Special measures must be taken to protect these children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation.


8.4.2 Measures must be taken to protect children and young workers against HIV and TB infection. Such measures must include the special needs of children and young persons in the response to HIV and AIDS in national, provincial, local, sectoral and workplace policies and programmes. These should include objective sexual and reproductive health education, in particular the dissemination of information on HIV and AIDS through vocational training and in youth employment programmes and services.