If you are living with HIV it's important that you understand your rights at work when you are sick and need time off.
Absence is usually unplanned and each individual absence differs. Sometimes you can plan ahead, for example, if you know you are about to start treatment or new medications and may experience side-effects as a result.
If you are about to start or change medications, you may be worried about managing any side-effects when you are in the workplace. Planning ahead can be invaluable here. Here are some things to consider:
For most people the side-effects of HIV medication usually settle down and get less severe after the first few weeks. In the few cases where they don’t, you can always speak to your doctor about ways to manage the side-effects or even about changing medications.
If you have a minor illness which means you need a few days off work, you should be treated in the same way as any other employee with a minor illness. If you constantly need time off work for illness, you should be treated the same way as any other employees with a chronic illness. The first seven days or less of being off sick, your employer can ask you fill in a self-certification when you return to work. Many employers have their own self-certification forms. If your employer doesn’t have their own form, they may use an Employee's Statement of Sickness Form.
If you have exceeded the seven days, you will need to get a Statement of Fitness to Work from your GP or the doctor that treated you. More guidance about time off for sickness.
As HIV is considered a disability from the point of diagnosis, any absences related to your HIV should be dealt with independently of your general sick leave. In order for this to apply you must let your employer know that you have a disability covered by the Equality Act 2010.
If you are an employee, your employer should not dismiss you for taking time off work unless they have first gone through a dismissal and disciplinary procedure. This link from the Equality and Human Rights Commission website looks at three issues based on the equality law:
There are other laws which your employer needs to follow to make sure a dismissal is fair and further guidance can be obtained from ACAS.
Check the parts of your contract that cover what happens if you’re sick.
Employers have a legal duty to look after your mental and physical wellbeing. It’s reasonable for them though, to expect you to cope with the day-to-day pressures of your job in most cases.
Once your employer becomes aware that you fall within the definition of a disabled person under the Equality Act 2010, they can avoid:
To ensure that they have met their duty to make reasonable adjustments your employer should:
Your employer does not have to pay sick pay beyond what they normally pay just because your time off is related to your disability. But it may be a reasonable adjustment to:
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This article was last reviewed on
by C. Berry
Date due for the next review: 22/9/2017
Content Author: J. Font
Current Owner: D. Anyanwu
Equality Act 2010, legislation.gov.uk (2010)
Social and legal issues for people with HIV, NAM (2010)
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Copyright 2017 © Terrence Higgins Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (reg. no. 288527)
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