HIV – recruitment implications

Advances in treatment have seen enormous improvements in the quality of life and life expectancy for people living with HIV in the UK. However, annual HIV diagnoses still remain high at between 6,000 and 7,000 per annum. According to the CIPD, an estimated 100,000 people are living with (diagnosed and undiagnosed) HIV.

The legal position is that all individuals with HIV are protected from discrimination during recruitment and in the workplace under the Equality Act 2010.  HIV is always defined as a disability under the law. As such, protection against disability discrimination begins from the date of diagnosis, regardless of the impact HIV has on an individual’s life at the time of diagnosis.

Unfortunately, HIV remains a stigmatised condition and people living with HIV still face discrimination during the recruitment process. As an employer, it is important to ensure that the recruitment process is fair and based solely on ability to do the job.

Changes to legislation in the Equality Act 2010 mean that, except in very specific circumstances, it is now unlawful for employers to ask applicants about their HIV status or any other health questions before they have been offered a job. This includes medical questionnaires as part of an application or questions in interview.

The good news is that most people newly diagnosed with HIV, and on treatment, only need to take one or two pills a day, and the side-effects of treatment are far less serious than they used to be. For most people, HIV has no impact on their working life so they should be capable and competent employees.

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