October 24, 2013
This article was reported by Jamaica Information Service.
At a breakfast meeting co-sponsored by the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) and Jamaica's Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Hon. Derrick Kellier announced a forthcoming Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) bill that will establish sanctions for any employer who restricted a person's right to work based on HIV status. Sanctions for offenses would include fines or imprisonment. The bill, which Kellier expected the legislature to pass in April 2014, focuses on protecting workers' rights in the workplace, emphasizing HIV education and prevention, establishing workplace HIV policies, and reducing stigma and discrimination. The meeting aimed to increase awareness of HIV occupational and safety issues among corporate leaders.
Although HIV-infected people posed no threat as food handlers, they were especially likely to experience discrimination and restrictions in the food industry, according to Kellier. Brian Pengelley, JMA's president, noted that sensitization and public education could dispel misconceptions about HIV transmission via food. He emphasized that addressing HIV in the workplace was essential to protecting employees' rights and creating healthy work environments.
JMA and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security partnered on a pilot project to reduce discrimination toward HIV-infected persons working in food service companies. Approximately 15 companies had signed on to participate in the pilot project, which would include workshops, personnel training, and posting anti-discrimination notices in manufacturing sites and food outlets.