18 July 2014: The short answer is that severe obesity is likely to be a disability under the Equality Act 2010.
In Kaltoft v Municipality of Billund (C-354/13) the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice has given the opinion that obesity may amount to a disability but only if it is ‘severe’. This opinion is likely to be accepted by the ECJ. Someone with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 would find that their weight impedes their professional life so much that it would amount to a disability.
The Advocate General commented that obesity is not a disability in itself. However employers should remember that overweight people may have a variety of other medical conditions that may also amount to disabilities in their own right, including diabetes, mobility issues, extreme fatigue etc. If so the employer should still consider reasonable adjustments to facilitate that person in their role.
We are employment law solicitors and lawyers based in Holborn, Central London, advising on all aspects of employment law including disability, unfair dismissal, redundancy, settlement agreements etc. Call today on 0207 118 0950 to speak to a solicitor or visit www.reculversolicitors.co.uk.