The Workplace Programmes

To reach its programme objectives the SWHAP’s main areas of interventions are to support high-quality workplace programmes and to create and sustain national, regional and global networks of companies, organisations and public institutions.

On the workplace level the SWHAP co-funds HIV and AIDS activities and assists to inspire the companies to create or enhance programme activities against HIV and AIDS. To receive funding from the SWHAP the workplaces must have an HIV and AIDS Policy that ensures confidentiality of the employees’ HIV status and a policy of non-discrimination of HIV infected employees.

Additionally, an HIV and AIDS Committee with representatives from both management and employees must be present at the workplaces. A key element for success is that the identification of needs and the formulation of programmes, as well as the actual implementation process at the workplace, are the joint responsibility of management and employees. The formation and efforts of workplace committees are essential for this partnership process.

The workplace committees plan and implement the activities. Even though the approach has been amended to meet the special requirements and needs of each of the countries, certain commonalities exist in the way the workplaces choose to implement their activities. The process can be described in eight steps which almost all concerned workplaces engage in:

  1. Management Sensitization
  2. Creation of HIV and AIDS Committees
  3. Information and Awareness Raising Training Schemes
  4. Assessment of Prevalence Through Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT)
  5. Peer Education Training
  6. Employee Assistance Programmes
  7. Involvement of Families
  8. Community Outreach Activities

Since its start, 33 workplaces have been co-funded by the SWHAP to implement HIV and AIDS workplace programmes from Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The companies active in the programmes are ABB, Alfa Laval, Assa Abloy, Atlas Copco, Autoliv, Dyno Nobel, Eltel Networks, Ericom, Ericsson, Raffia Bags, Sanitas, Sekab, Saab, Sandvik, Scania, SKF, Swedish Match, Tetra Pak and Volvo.

In total, it translates into 13.000 employees at Swedish related workplaces benefiting directly from the programmes in 2008. Another 20 Swedish workplaces participate in the SWHAP national networks. The networks organise trainings, possibilities for sharing of experiences, and, in some countries, joint VCT sessions and development of workplace policies. Additionally, many of the workplaces conduct programmes that include families of the employees and interventions targeting the surrounding community as well as some neighbouring and supply chain companies.

One major focus of the SWHAP has been voluntary counselling and testing (VCT). Sessions have been completed in a vast majority of the workplaces involved, generally with very good results. Important factors for a high VCT uptake are the amount of confidence between the different actors at the workplace as well as lack of confidentiality or fear of discrimination. Strong support from top management is thus a very important factor; when the MD is the first in line to get tested, the employees tend to follow. It is crucial for the individual as well as the company to know the HIV status in order for the person as well as the enterprise to be able to plan the way forward.

Apart from VCT, training, care and treatment programmes are vital parts of the workplace activities. The various workplaces have tremendously creative ideas on how to efficiently work with this issue. For instance, many of the companies active in the SWHAP are operating in the mining- and transport sector, consequently the employees are part of some of the most vulnerable groups as concerns being infected by HIV and AIDS. However, within the programme, what could be seen as a problem is instead becoming part of the solution. In several of the truck companies active in the programme the drivers receive training on HIV and AIDS every time their truck comes in to the workplace for service. One company has also introduced the concept of the “buddy-box” in its South African trucks. The buddy-box, which is refilled at service stations, contains educational information on HIV and Aids and prevention, as well as prophylaxis and condoms. Thus, as the drivers travel they spread information on HIV and AIDS and means of protection. This is only one example of when the core competencies of business become an efficient tool to prevent further spread of HIV and alleviate the effects of AIDS.

A key element of the SWHAP has been the sharing of experience and networking. This has been carried out at the national level between the workplaces management and employees as well as with other national actors such as trade unions and business coalitions; between workplaces from different countries within the same company group; between all SWHAP workplaces regionally; with the head quarters in Sweden; as well as with a number of organizations and institutions regionally. The networking serves both at enhancing the existing workplace programmes as well as to spread the experience of the SWHAP to more actors and, thus, reaching a larger impact than only at the workplaces supported. The SWHAP workplaces can serve as spearheads nationally as well as provide arguments globally for taking action on HIV and AIDS in the world of work.