THE NATIONAL TRIPARTITE WORKPLACE POLICY ON CHRONIC NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines recognizes that the negative and long-term effects of NCDs on the workforce can have serious consequences for the economic, social, political and cultural life of the Nation. NCDs are life-threatening and can have debilitating effects on the quality of family and community life. The Government commits to a comprehensive approach to the prevention and management of NCDs, with all stakeholders, including the workplace partners, involved in the response. It is determined too, to pursue joint approaches with regional and international institutions for programme funding and technical support.
Factors such as unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco use and alcohol abuse can lead to violence and injuries at the workplace. The intention of the Policy is to outline strategies to reduce, prevent and control the consequential impacts of such risk factors, including through education and awareness of NCDs, the value of healthy diets; increased physical activity; wellness programmes and healthy life-style changes.
The tripartite parties will participate fully in the proposed National Commission on NCDs so as to ensure that the workplace is an integral partner in the development and implementation of strategies for the prevention and control of NCDs.
Reliance will be placed on partnerships with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) throughout the nation, as well as across the region.
A. NCDs are a Workplace Issue
Several private sector organizations and enterprises have recognized that absenteeism due to the effects of NCDs is now growing across the board and the impact is being felt in the financial performance of the enterprise. As such, employers must address the issue in the workplace and ensure that the workplace contributes to the national efforts to prevent NCDs and mitigate the impact on the society and economy. This has been solidly demonstrated by sound analysis.
B. Non- Discrimination
No worker should be discriminated against by reason of his illness, and/or complications thereof.
C. Gender Equality
The types of diseases that comprise NCDs, in certain groups affect more women than men. However, employers are encouraged to treat both groups of workers in a similar fashion. Women are disproportionately affected by the burden of NCDs. They are affected directly due to biological reasons, and indirectly, since they are the primary care-givers in the home. Notwithstanding this, employers will make available to each gender opportunities for the control of NCDs.
D. Healthy Work Environment
Certain types of work involve conditions which are likely to affect workers’ health. By the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Convention 1981 (No. 155), employers are obliged to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all workers.
E. Provision of Healthy Meals
Institutions such as schools and hospitals and large factories provide meals at work. They are encouraged to provide or facilitate the provision of safe and healthy meals with a sufficiency of nutrition to improve wellness.
F. Health and Well-being Education
The Caribbean Wellness Day already established should be encouraged and maintained by Government, Trade Unions and Private sector organizations, as well as by Faith-Based Organisations (FBOs), Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) nation-wide. Additionally, employers and trade unions should provide regular education opportunities on healthy life-styles and should integrate health and well-being programmes into staff development activities and extend such services to the families and dependants of workers.
Workers should be encouraged and educated to know their health status. Screenings for the early detection of the NCDs should be encouraged and facilitated, particularly for cancers, hypertension and diabetes. The results of screening should be held in the strictest confidence.
No worker should be obliged to disclose his NCD status and is entitled to privacy, except if he chooses to disclose his status.
I. Continuation of Employment
Having an NCD must not be a cause for termination. Efforts should be made to place the worker in modified work assignments for which he is medically fit.
J. Treatment, Care and Support
All workers should have full access to affordable health care. Information on the services provided by the Public Clinics and District Health should be readily available and accessible to workers.