A 25 stone Danish Childminder was recently fired because he was unable to tie up a child’s shoelaces without assistance from a colleague. He  took his case eventually to the European Court of Justice claiming he was unfairly discriminated against and lost his job because of his obesity which he asked to be regarded as a disability. A preliminary opinion from the ECJ agreed.

If upheld and they normally are this means you will have to treat an obese employee similarly to any other disabled employee and they will have protection under the Equality Act which puts the burden on the employer to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their disability. The adjustments could vary from a larger chair or xxs uniforms to installing ramps or lifts depending on the size and resources of the company clearly Tescos would have to do more than a company with say 10 employees. There will be issues between someone who is fat like me or someone who is morbidly obese and we will have to wait to see this unfolds and what a strict definition of obesity is. It is likely to be tied to someone’s body mass index.

For help in this and any other HR area please contact me on 0203 640 7748 or at mnewman@ukemploymentlawadvice.co.uk
Where did I put that diet sheet?

Michael Newman