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Obesity! Is it the new “Disability”?

March 26, 2018

Having read an article on the Shakespeares Solicitors website the question in the office was raised as to whether obesity should be considered a disability.

“The Advocate General has delivered his guidance ahead of the judgment in the recent case brought by the Danish childminder who claimed that he was sacked on account of his obesity and that should be unlawful. The AG confirmed the view that obesity itself was not a protected characteristic per se. No news there, but certainly a relief that it has been confirmed.

He then considered whether obesity itself could fall within the definition of “Disability”. He concluded that if someone was severely obese, so for example with a BMI of 40 and above, there may be a possibility that the “Disability” test would be satisfied. Simply because someone who is as overweight as this may find it impacts on their ability to participate in work. If it doesn’t they won’t satisfy the test”
So what impact does this have on employers? We often hear the statistics regarding the costs of the ‘obesity epidemic’ to the country and especially the NHS but companies, especially small businesses seem largely overlooked in these figures.

Whilst one side would argue, quite unsympathetically that obesity is simply a self-inflicted condition, the other would contend that much like any other addiction, it would be categorised as a legitimate mental illness. So where do you stand? Would you consider obesity as a disability, and make such concessions  in your workplace

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