The following outlines OREX Export Pty Ltd policy and prodcedures for interacting with employees who have been medically diagnosed with or who are suspected of having the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) virus.
The purpose of the AIDS policy is to reassure employees that AIDS is not spread through casual contact during normal work practices and to reduce unrealistic fears about contracting an AIDS virus-related condition. This policy also protects the legal right to work of employees who are diagnosed with an AIDS virus-related condition and provides guidelines for situations where infection with AIDS virus is suspected. Our policy is to encourage sensitivty to and understanding for employees affected with a condition of the AIDS virus.
We are committed to maintaining a healthy work environment by protecting the physical and emotional health and well-being of all employes in the wokplace. We also have a continuing commitment to provide employment for people with physical disabilities who are able to work. This AIDS policy is a direct outgrowth of thse commitments. It provides guidelines for situations when a question as ro an AIDS virus-related condition arises. There are three major piont:
Employees who are diagnosed with an AIDS virus-related condition may continue to work if they are deemed medically able to work and can meet acceptable performance standards.
We will provide reasonable performance standards and reasonable accommodation if necessary to enable these employees to continue working.
We provide AIDS education for all employees to help them understand ho the AIDS virus is spread and to reduce unrealistic fears od contracting an AIDS virus-related conditions.
The term “AIDS virus-related conditions” refers to the following four medically diagnosed conditions:
1. presence of the AIDS antibody without symptoms of AIDS
2. presence of an AIDS-Related Complex (ARC)
4. Central nervous system infection
Medical experts on AIDS virus-related conditions have informed us that there is no known risk od ADIS transmission between an affected employees through either casual or close contact that occurs during normal work activities.
An AIDS virus-related contidion in not transmitted by breathing the same air, using the same lavatories, touching a common piece of paper, or using the same telephone. Transmission of the virus through oral secretions or tears is not recognized risk according to medical authorities. Additionally, the virus is very fragile and has been found to be transmitted only through intimate exchange of bodily fluids (for example, blood or blood-contaminated tissue fluids such as semen or vaginal fluid).
The AIDS virus attacks the immune system, causing a breakdown in a perosn’s normal protection against infection. This leaves the bdy vulnerable to life-treathing illnesses. In addition, the virus by itself can affect the nervous system.
Individuals of all sexual preferences are at risk of contrcting an AIDS virus-related condition.
According to medical experts, the AIDS virus us transmitted in the following ways: Sexual contact through transmission od semen or viginal fluids; intravenous drug administration with contaminated needless; adminostration of contaminated blood or blood products, and passage of the virus from infected mothers to their fetus or newborn. However, there is no evidance to suggest that pregnant women are particularly susceptible to any AIDS virus-related ilness or condition. Recent medical evidence suggests that an AIDS virus-related condition can have an incubation period of severa; weeks, months or years before symptoms appear. Medical findings indicate that a person who has a positive antibody test will not necessarily develop an AIDS virus-related condition.
The presence of the AIDS antibody is a sign of infection, not immunity, unfortunately.
As is true for any person with a life-threathining illness, a person diagnosed with an AIDS virus-related condition deserves and reuires compassion and understanding. While that person is attempting to cope with his or her own vulnerability and fears, the support and understanding of friends and colleagues can be particularly valuable.
Some people have fears about contracting AIDS based on misinformation or lack of knowledge about how AIDS is spread. Education providing accurate medical information can best alleviate fears of contracting an AIDS condition.
Infected employees should be treated empathetically and in exactly the same way as other terminally ill staff or other staff who have seroius injury or health problems. If a sitiation arises where an emplyee is found to be HIV positive and where his performance is affected, it is managemnet’s duty to ensure that they are not simpy discharge. This would be anfair labour practice.
Management has duty nevertheless to ensure that productivity and morale is not disrupted, and should take one of the following alternatives into conssideration when it becomes clear that the employee is no longer able to carry our his present function or where it would be insensitive to colleagues or customers to leave the employee in his present positon.
– Place the person in a alternative position if he is able to perform the function
– Adjust the salary and benefits in accordance with a alternative function offered to the employee
– Consider adjusting the work schedule (hours) or place of work, to provide for more conveniont circumstances for the employee
– Consider alternative positions – bearing in mind sound business practice
If an infected person is working in the kitchen or any department where there is a danger of being cut and blood subsequently contaminating food, then transfer of that staff member to another department must be effected. This should be done in consultation with Managing Director:
Should there be negative reactions from colleagues of infected staff each situatuin will be assessed and dealt with appropriately as it arises. It may also be necessary to arrange for an informed professional to educate the staff. It is necessary to be sensitive and responsive to colleagues concerns.
However, where there is no risk to other employees, and employees, and employees remain unwilling to work with an HIV positive colleague, after reassurance and with all appropriate safety and health precautions having been taken by the company, he will be warned that such behaviour is reasonable, and scientifically unjustified and that his own employment situation may be placed in jeopardy.
If an infected employee is being victimised or harassed at work, making working life intolerable or impossible, the Company has a duty to support the employee in order that he may work without disruption or harassment from fellow workers.
Testing of Employees
Testing will only be undertaken on a voluntary basis when requested by the employee and will be for the employee’s own cost. However, in the event of prolonged or repeted sick leave, the Company (at its cost) may request a medical examination by a medical practitioner of its choice as is the case with any other chronic or serious illness. The results of such an examination will be divulged to the Company but must be handled on a cofidential basis.
Where required, professional counselling services should be made availble.
This counselling service should also be used when a job performance problem indicates that testing for HIV is necessary.
When Results Are Positive
Employees receiving HIV positive results are not under any obligation to inform the Company. However, HIV positive employees who work in the kitchens or whose work performance is affected, are urged to inform either the Managing Director or their immediate Manger, so that the problem can be dealt eith and employee assisted. When the employee discloses test results to the Company, and where counselling has not taken place, this should be arranged and medical aid assisstance should be explained. Counselling may aslo be required for the employee’s family.
The results of test are to be kept strictly confidential. Only management who need to know should be informed confidentially. Disclosure, or a breach of confidence could be regarded as an unfair labour practice or a violation of the rights of the employee.
Every First Aid box must contain disposable gloves for use by the First Aider when dealing with cuts and abrasions so that they cannot be infected. Employees providing assistance should wash their hands thoroughly with disinfectant, soap and water afterwards and destroy the gloves.
Aids will be treated like any other life threating disease and employees may continue to work for as long as their conditions allows, provided that they meet required performance standards and are not a threat to their own safety or that of others.
Medical Aid Benefits
HIV positive employees should be encouraged to use their private medical practitioner or Provincial Hospital services which are multi-disciplinary in approach and include full counselling service.
Currently the best way of preventing the spread of the HIV virus (in view of the lack of an antidote or vaccine) is through education. Professional services are available in most centres. These involve the use of talks, vidoes, discussion groups, etc. and management is advised to make use of these facilities so that staff are well informed about Aids and HIV.
The Company does not have the facilities or expertise to mount a nation-wide campaing for its staff and availble community facilities should be used for this purpose.
Forcing AIDS education upon employees may be counter productive. Therefore, it is recommended that staff be encouraged to participate in the planning of any educational activities to ensure that they succeed.
The physical and emotional health and well-being of all employees must be protected, and reasonable accommodation for the medically impaired employee with an AIDS virus-related condition must be provided, as long as the employee is able to meet acceptable performance standards. To ensure these goals are met, the folowijg guidelines are to be followed:
Any employee diagnosed with an AIDS condition is entitled, as is any other employee, to confidentiality of their medical condition and medical records.
If an employee with an AIDS condition requests job accommodation for his/her medical condition, the employee must obtain a written medical opinion that he/she (a) is medically able to work and (b) needs reasonable job accommodation in order to maintain employment.
If it is deemed medically necessary, based upon current physical impairment, Zwartbooisberg Farm and the employee’s supervisor will work to bring about any reasonable job modification or job transfer of the employee with a diagnosed condition of AIDS.
If a healthy employee refuses to work with an employee who is diagnosed with AIDS condition and is medically approved as able to work, job transfer or other work accommodation for the healthy employee will only occur when medically indicated by written order of his/her physician. The medical order must be a signed medical statement requesting this job change. In the absence of a medical order, normal transfer procedures will be followed.