Guidance for Supervising an Employee with HIV
As an employer or human resources (HR) professional, you may be seeking guidance on how to provide a positive and productive work environment for employees with HIV. The following information provides an overview of the workplace rights of employees with HIV and the responsibilities supervisors have regarding them.
HIV Stigma in the Workplace
Fear can lead to negative behaviors. When people do not have accurate information, it can cause them to fear people who have HIV or perceived to have HIV, and friends and family members of people with HIV. You can help to prevent or address this fear by
- Becoming educated about HIV,
- Promoting HIV education,
- Demonstrating consideration and compassion for people with HIV, and
- Continuing to treat your coworkers who have HIV like other coworkers.
Managing an Employee Who Has HIV
When employees disclose that they have HIV, everyone—including management—has responsibilities. Leadership is important in establishing a workplace environment that is productive and supportive for workers who have HIV and other illnesses. This could mean addressing stigma, which can disrupt workplace productivity and possibly lead to discrimination. Lack of accurate information about HIV is a major reason stigma exists in the workplace.
Behaviors that are discriminatory and possibly illegal include:
- Negative behaviors toward employees may include shunning, refusing to work with, or harassing them.
- Negative behaviors, such as refusing to hire, failing to promote, or firing a person who has HIV.
HIV-related stigma can have emotional tolls. Though many employees with HIV perform their jobs well, the stress and anxiety that results from HIV-related stigma may impact job performance. As an employer, you can help promote an environment in which all employees perform to the best of their abilities.
As a supervisor, you can educate yourself and your employees about HIV. You can learn about employment laws related to HIV, such as medical confidentiality, disability, and reasonable accommodation. You should know your workplace’s policies, including its HIV policy, as well as its HIV education program if one exists.
Demonstrating competence in dealing with HIV will send a message that your workplace has set standards and expectations for everyone to follow concerning HIV. Promoting a safe environment will enhance productivity.