Creating a supportive working environment

As an employer there are a number of things you can do to make your workplace a supportive one for people living with HIV. Respecting confidentiality and reasonable adjustments are crucial (see our page on employers' legal responsibilities for more information) and preventing harassment and stigma are just as important.

Preventing harassment

Harassment is unwanted behaviour related to a relevant protected characteristic such as a person’s disability, which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

Employers have a responsibility to properly investigate claims of harassment in the workplace. Many employers also choose to develop a bullying and harassment policy which sets out the behaviour expected of their staff. For more information about this please see bullying and harassment at work a guide for employers produced by ACAS.

Challenging stigma

Most responsible employers would want their employees to feel comfortable and supported in their workplace and therefore go beyond just their statutory responsibilities. People living with HIV, fear being stigmatised because of their condition. They worry about being labelled or judged. This fear is made worse by negative media coverage about HIV, which does not accurately represent the experience of everyone.

Employers can help create a supportive work environment and challenge HIV-related stigma in the following ways:

  • Ensuring that all employees are aware of the facts about HIV transmission.
  • Creating or updating an equal opportunities policy to clearly set out a commitment to supporting disabled people including those living with HIV.
  • Providing training for staff on equality and diversity which includes discussion on issues around confidentiality and disclosure of an HIV status.
  • Marking World AIDS Day which takes place on December 1st each year.