Employment alert — is weight a disability issue?

According to a 2012 NHS report, 26 per cent of the UK’s adult population is obese. Data shows an approximate one per cent annual increase in obesity. It was, therefore, only a matter of time before obesity-related employment disputes found their way to the employment tribunal.

Earlier this month, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) confirmed that while obesity, without more, is not a disability, obese employees who suffer from physical or mental impairments (which have a substantial and long-term effect on the employee’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities) can be disabled for the purpose of the UK’s equality legislation (Walker v SITA Information Networking Computing Ltd). The EAT also confirmed that an employer should not focus on the underlying cause of the impairment (e.g. obesity), but on whether there is actually an impairment…

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