Is it more expensive to employ an HIV-positive person, and if so, won't that affect us all?

It is extremely unlikely to be more expensive, since most HIV-positive people who are not showing symptoms of the disease are able to work normally.

Any adjustments for an HIV-positive employee are likely to be minor – similar to those for other long-term conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and may relate to making changes to the job, flexible hours, and giving time off for medical appointments.

An HIV-positive employee may get sick, for example because of the side-effects of anti-HIV drugs. But any employee can fall sick or suffer from a medical condition requiring them to take time off.

Any high costs involved in accommodating disabled employees may be covered by schemes such as Access to Work or the Work Choice scheme. Information on these schemes is available from Disability Employment Advisers (DEAs) in Jobcentres, and from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in England, Scotland and Wales, or the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

Laws prohibiting disability discrimination in the Equality Act 2010, protect anyone living with HIV from discrimination at work from the moment of diagnosis. The Act requires the employer to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace or work practices to remove any substantial disadvantages a disabled person may experience due to their disability.

In addition, broadly speaking, the Equality Act 2010 introduced a ban on pre-employment questions to job applicants about their health, including whether they have a disability, and about their previous sickness absence record, before they are offered a role. This makes it unlawful for employers to ask questions about HIV before offering a person a job.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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