Minister of State with responsibility for Labour, Senator Arni Walters (right), at the launch of the Code of Practice. Also pictured from??left??are Chairman of the National HIV/AIDS Commission, Dr. Carol Jacobs and Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service, Allyson Forte.

The Ministry of Labour broke new ground today with the launch of its Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and other Life Threatening Illnesses (LTIs) for the public sector.

The 14-page booklet, the brainchild of the Ministry’s HIV/AIDS Core Group, signifies Government’s commitment to treat all employees in the public sector in a fair and non-discriminatory manner, regardless of their HIV status or any LTI.

Speaking at today’s ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Minister of State with responsibility for Labour, Senator Arni Walters, noted that as the single largest employer in the island, Government had a responsibility for the economic and social well-being of all of its workers.

In this regard, he said the Code would serve as a guide to help public sectors managers to promote a supportive, ethical and human rights centred work environment which protects the basic rights and freedoms of employees living and working with HIV and other LTIs.

"Given the fact that employees spend long periods of time at the workplace, it is imperative that the environment is one that is supportive of persons who have expressed the desire to continue working and have the ability to work, even though they may be living with a serious illness," he stressed.

The Minister also touched on the issue of confidentiality, which is enshrined in the Code, pointing out that the right to privacy must be adhered to by officers who deal with sensitive data.

"…officers responsible for human resource management information systems in particular should be trained in the principles and application of personal data collection and be fully aware of the legislative framework that governs data management," he said.

Senator Walters noted that after three to five years the policy would be reviewed by the HIV/AIDS Core Group and the Social Partners to take into account any new medical or policy developments relating to HIV/AIDS and any LTIs.

The Code of Practice addresses several pertinent issues related to the modern workplace and deals with health related matters including confidentiality, stigma and discrimination, the desire and ability to work, and safety and health.

It will be made available at the Ministry of Labour, 3rd Floor, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael; and on government web sites for download in December.

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