Going back to work If you have been out of work due to ill health because of HIV but now feel able to work again, you may be considering going back into your old line of work, or you may be thinking about a new line of work altogether. If you want to go back into the same job or career you had before you had to stop work then you’ll need to think about how long you’ve been out of work for and whether your skills are still relevant or up to date. If your skills are out of date then you could consider some training or re-training to get your skills back up to speed before you seek employment. If you feel like a change in direction and want to go into a different line of work from the one you used to have, you may also need to seek training to give you the skills you need to take up a new career. Whatever you are considering, you may need some help and advice about issues such as training, re-training, CV writing and interview skills. If you need some help and advice around getting back into work, THT offer introductory employment advice. To find out what services are available, call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221. If you don’t feel that you are ready to go straight back into full time work, you may want to think about easing yourself back into work gently. Starting part time may be a good idea, but this will have an impact on any benefits you may be receiving, and you could potentially leave yourself worse off financially than when you didn’t work. It’s always a good idea to get some advice from someone who knows how the state benefit system works, and we talk more about this in the section on benefits. Whether you are thinking of going back into full or part time paid work, you may have concerns about telling your new employer that you have HIV. We talk about disclosure at work in the section on disclosing your HIV status. Voluntary workIf you don’t feel able to take up paid work again at the moment, you could consider voluntary work. Voluntary work will enable you to feel useful and could give you the opportunity to learn new skills and get back into a work routine. It can also help you to regain some confidence in your ability to work, potentially providing a useful stepping stone back into paid work. You are allowed to do voluntary work for a number of hours a week without it impacting on your state benefits, but check with your benefits office about exactly what you are allowed to do. There are hundreds of different charities and organisations in the voluntary sector working in a wide variety of fields, so you are likely to be able to find an organisation working in a field that interests you. You can find out about voluntary organisations through your local volunteer centre, details of which can be found on the Volunteering England website at www.volunteering.org.uk. If you live in London you may want to consider volunteering for GMFA, the creators of this site. You can find details about this in the Volunteering for GMFA section of our About GMFA section. Your rightsAs we said in the section about HIV and your work, it is illegal for potential employers to refuse you a job that you apply for simply because you have HIV. However, if any disability caused by HIV would make it difficult for you to do the job you are applying for, and no reasonable adjustments can be made to accommodate you, then you can still legally be refused a job. Also, it may be that you haven’t worked for a long time and as such your skills are not up to date. In this case a potential employer is perfectly allowed to refuse you the job if you are considered not to be as qualified to do the job as someone else. If you feel you need some advice about your rights then you’ll find useful contacts in the section on employment rights advice.