Get yourself active blog

Disability Rights UK reacts to Professor Bevans comments on obese workers

Friday 8 June 2018

On Monday 25 June. The Daily Mirror reported that Professor Bevan, head of HR research at Institute for Employment Studies had remarked that obese workers should be allowed to turn up late and be protected under anti discrimination law.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said that idea was ludicrous. Obese people do actually have some protection under European worker discrimination law  where obesity leads you to have physical, mental or psychological impairments, which could affect your work. Your employer should make reasonable adjustments in this case and you could make a claim for discrimination at an employment tribunal if adjustments are not considered or made.

Unfortunately no mention was made of encouraging obese people to get active. Disability Rights UK is committed to promoting greater activity and wellbeing for disabled people via our Get Yourself Active programme and our involvement in the Get Out Get Active programme.  And while we’re supportive of any approaches that improve attitudes towards disabled people, including people who develop health conditions and disabilities through obesity, we feel strongly that Professor Bevans proposals should not be considered in isolation. Instead we should ensure that there is a joined up approach to dealing with the negative effects caused by obesity, including through peer support (disabled people supporting other disabled people to become active) and greater use of personal budgets by disabled people to take part in physical activity. And particularly as according to the latest biannual Active Lives Survey by Sport England 43% of disabled people are classed as inactive, something that is one of the lead causes of obesity.

We also advocate greater investment and wider promotion of Access to Work as it provides support to meet some of the adjustments required by disabled employees.

In other news: Reaction to the latest report on the Active Lives Survey by Sport England: Is no change a good thing?

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