Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

New HIV policy focuses on HIV in the workplace

The government has teamed up with Ethiopia’s main employees’ and employers’ associations to launch a new HIV/AIDS workplace policy that is to be implemented across the nation.
The new policy came into force in January 2012 and will be applied across the board in state and private organizations. It is expected to protect job seekers from mandatory HIV tests, while facilitating voluntary counseling and testing and defending the right of employees living with HIV to medical leave or job re-allocation. It also provides guidelines for the establishment of an AIDS fund to help employees cope with living with the virus.
The new policy is in line with the country’s goal of halving new HIV infections by 2015.
“Where HIV/AIDS hurts the country most is in workplaces, where the productive part of the society -alongside their employers, family and the rest of their community – suffer financially, economically and socially in aftershocks of every new HIV infection,” said Solomon Demissie, director of the Harmonious Industrial Relation Directorate at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
The new policy brings an agreement with the Ethiopian Employers Federation and The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, and is also endorsed by the Ethiopian Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency, which oversees 53 state organizations.
It stipulates that employers will make the necessary investments to ensure universal precautions in workplaces to protect employees from HIV infection, and are also expected to put in place a post-exposure prophylaxis system for their workforce.
The AIDS fund will raise a monthly contribution from employees and will also be run with assistance from the organizations’ credit and saving associations. Money from the fund will be used for treatment, care and support programmes such as medical checkups and balanced diets, and other social assistance programmes for employees and their families.