In December 2014, a ruling by the European Court of Justice, confirms that obesity - or its effects - are to be classed as disabilities for the purpose of employment practices.
2014 News - "Obesity is a Disability at Work"
The European Court of Justice has made a potentially explosive judgment relating to employment and staff who are obese.
Basically it has ruled that Obesity and its physical or mental effects are legally classed as disabilities.
Prior to this judgment, only those suffering from 'morbid' obesity were legally classed as having a disability.
The new ruling states that whilst 'normal' obesity in itself is not a disability, the physical and mental problems that are caused by being obese, are in themselves classed as disability.
“[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,”
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 diabetes even, together with depression, resulting from the person’s state of obesity.
Obesity and its effects upon a person will be firmly within the scope of the European Employment Equality Directive whereby those with disabilities will have to be treated as ‘equals’ in the workplace, with due provision being made 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, as well as ensuring that there is no ‘bullying’ or discriminatory actions from other staff members.
The onus is with the employer to 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 is firmly that employers cannot discriminate simply because the person is overweight - however caused.
“[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,”
The European ‘Employment Equality Directive’ prohibits discriminatory prejudice against staff members in the workplace, for their religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
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.
Obesity is Confirmed as a Possible Disability