Absenteeism has become one of the greatest problems facing employers. Many factors assist in compounding the problem one of which is the impact of HIV/AIDS and its consequences.
The impact of absenteeism on other employees has severe consequences that result in low moral and unhappiness. Increased workload, pressure and responsibility due to the absence of colleagues are taking their toll on employees and leading to the resignation of essential people.
The Human Resources costs that result from having to replace staff, re-train staff or rotate staff is another issue that is costly for companies.
Loss of productivity, low morale and loss of essential employees will ultimately lead to a loss of business, a diminishing client base, a loss of sales revenue and potentially the loss of a business.
The time to act is now. Consider the long-term impact of today’s absenteeism and make a decision to address the problem now.
The issue is absenteeism and not HIV/AIDS. Deal with the problem and not the cause. Treat all employees alike and be fair to all.
What you should do
An employee who is absent excessively due to HIV/AIDS should be managed the same as any other employee who is ill. To treat an employee with HIV/AIDS differently to a person suffering from cancer or diabetes is potentially unfair labour practice. How you manage a sick employee will depend on the type of work, the nature of the illness and the impact in terms of your specific business.
An HIV positive employee working in a butcher's shop who is using sharp implements poses a greater threat of transmission than say a motor mechanic. Management of each will be different because of the nature of the work and the possibility of accident and transmission
You need to consider the following
HIV/AIDS causes illness, disability and death. It will have emotional and economic consequences for the company and other employees. It decreases profits and increases the costs to your company.
Establish a plan to monitor absenteeism trends for all employees. You should deal with the problem immediately and discuss your concerns with the individual employees.
You need to consider the nature of the work. What is the possibility of transmission and infection? If there was an accident resulting in blood transmission who would be at risk?
Consider the nature of the incapacity and illness. What is the possibility for improvement? Will your employee get better or worse?
Remember that dismissal is a last resort.
The general rule before termination due to ill health is
(Labour relations act and code of good practice: dismissal)
© Des Squire
082 800 9057
Thanks for this comprehensive summary. I would just like to add, from my personal experience with clients: companies that have known policies on the management of HIV/Aids, where employees can come to a senior manager (or owner) and disclose their status in confidentiality, where the company will provide emotional support and encouragement, ensure that the employee is receiving good dietary and life style advice - including providing nutrition if not addressed by the local clinic, then the health of the individual and absenteeism are not usually a problem. From experience in most cases, employees with well managed HIV/Aids are in fact more likely to be in work than other employees.