The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate against someone living with HIV in the workplace. Yet despite these protections, people are still facing discrimination from employers and colleagues and some even lose their jobs because of their HIV status.
The Equality Act 2010 is applicable from the moment an individual is diagnosed with HIV, and means an employer must make any reasonable adjustments requested to remove barriers for those living with HIV. Research by the National AIDS Trust showed that in the majority of cases, HIV had no impact on people's working life, but a small proportion of people did identify some reasonable adjustments that an employer could make to assist them at work.
• time off to attend hospital and clinic appointments
• some flexibility in working hours
• being able to work at home occasionally.
An employer is only obliged to make such changes if they know, or 'could be reasonably expected to know' that an employee has a disability. Therefore, if you need any adjustments making due to your HIV status, you will need to let your employer know about it.
It is common for people with HIV to be reluctant to tell their boss about their condition due to fears about confidentiality. However, a business also has obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998, which regulates how personal information is processed and protects all personal sensitive data disclosed by a job applicant or employee, including information about physical or mental health conditions.
The Data Protection Act specifies that written consent is needed for personal sensitive information to be passed on and your employer should have procedures in place to ensure that personal information about employees is properly handled.
Making a claim
If your employer does not make any reasonable adjustments required that you have requested once notified of your HIV status, your work may suffer. In some circumstances you may find that you are dismissed on the basis that you are unable to carry out the role. If this is the case then you may be entitled to claim against your employer for disability discrimination.
There is no minimum length of employment required to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal, but it is important to lodge your claim with ACAS within 3 months of the act of discrimination occurring. It is therefore essential that you take legal advice on your situation at an early stage and as soon as possible.
With offices in Leicester, Wigston and Market Harborough we are willing to discuss your employment law claim at any of our offices. In addition we are a national provider of expert employment law advice and welcome a free discussion with you regarding you circumstances and potential claim. If you believe you have a situation where you require free legal advice, please contact us on telephone 01162121000 or 01858445480. Alternatively fill in the free Contact Us form above and we will get in touch as soon as possible.
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