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Obese employees should be able to work from home, government adviser says

Obese employees should be allowed to turn up later for work and be protected under discrimination laws, a government adviser has said

The scheme could potentially allow obese office workers to work from home, avoid commuting during rush hour or having to demand a larger chair. The changes are set to be proprosed by a UK government adviser at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, as new research shows Brits are among the most prejudice towards overweight people in Europe.

Professor Stephen Bevan is a member of Public Health England’s advisory board and also gives advice to the Department of Work and Pensions.

He is set to inform 2,000 medical professionals that obesity should be considered a ‘protected characteristic’ allowing staff to sue fat-shaming employers.

Prof Bevan, who is also head of HR research at the Institute for Employment Studies, told The Mirror: ‘We need to coordinate our efforts so that people who want to work can do so. ‘It can be working time, it can be having a bit of understanding that someone might need to turn up at 10am because they have trouble with transport or anxiety about transport. ‘Many employers get away with whatever they want’.

Prof Bevan will present a systematic review of obesity workplace discrimination, including a major study into ‘weight stigma’ in the NHS.

Another study found one in five Brits said they wouldn’t want an overweight person marrying into their family. A third study by the European Association for the Study of Obesity found more than half of British doctors think obese patients lacked willpower, with one in three saying they were too lazy to stay om top of their weight.

‘Some people say that obesity is the last characteristic that it’s still socially acceptable to make fun of. ‘We have a scheme in the UK called Access to Work which not many employers know about.

“If you are an individual living with a health condition or an impairment you can get support, paid for by the Government to make accommodations. ‘It could be transport or it could be working from home’. However the idea has been met with condemnation from some corners.

Christopher Snowdon Head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs said it was a ‘ludicrous idea’ that would only lead to ‘resentment against obese people’ if it were enforced, adding that he thought ‘being fat is not a disability’.

 

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