OBESITY IS A DISABILITY: The European Court of Justice has made a potentially explosive judgment. It relates to employment and staff who are obese.
It ruled that obesity, and its physical or mental effects, are now ‘legally’ classed as disabilities.
Before this judgment, only those suffering from ‘morbid’ obesity had a legal classification of having a disability.
The new ruling states that ‘normal’ obesity in itself is not a disability. But, the physical and mental problems caused by being obese, are in themselves classed as a disability.
Employers now find themselves having to define and act upon what these disabilities actually are. Provision will have to be made in the workplace to accommodate those suffering from the effects of obesity.
These will include joint and back problems or even diabetes mellitus. You might need to add depression – resulting from the person’s state of obesity.
Obesity as a Disability at Work
Note: [Obesity] – or the effects of – falls within the concept of ‘disability’ where, under particular conditions, it hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers.
Obesity, and its effects upon a person, will be within the scope of the European Employment Equality Directive. Those with disabilities will need treating as ‘equals’ in the workplace. Employers may need to make due provision to allow for those disabilities.
This could mean that the workplace is to be ‘reasonably’ adapted for comfortable use! Wider seats, larger car parking spaces, ease of access. Not to mention ensuring there is no ‘bullying’ or discriminatory actions from other staff members.
The onus is with the employer. They must satisfy the needs and requirements for efficient and suitable working conditions for obese staff. It matters not that the causes of obesity could well be self-inflicted. The judgment means employers cannot discriminate because a person is overweight – whatever the cause.
Note: “[Obesity] falls within the concept of ‘disability’ where, under particular conditions, it hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers,”
Updated- May 2017
Study Claims 900,000 People Too Fat to Work
A new study claims around 900,000 people in Britain cannot work because they are overweight. Most alarming is that the figure is five times bigger than official records show.
Professor Dame Carol Black revealed the latest oversize statistics being about 880,000. That’s a huge number of people claiming welfare payments because of obesity.
The Employment and Support Allowance helps 2.3 million claimants with illness or a disability. Job centers are usually refer obese people to slimming classes. But, numbers suggest those referred to non-surgical treatment rarely lose more than 10kg.
The study for 2017 shows 25% of people in the United Kingdom are obese. That is a sizeable increase from a 1 in 35 as it was in the 1970s.
The Obesity Health Alliance released a stark warning. OHA say the National Health Service will suffer. There will be ‘enormous and unsustainable strain‘ on the NHS.
We need measures to tackle child obesity – and without delay. Obesity as a disability at work currently costs the NHS £5.1 billion a year.