Obese staff should start work later in order to avoid any anxiety about travelling during rush hour.
That’s the recommendation put forward by a government advisor at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna. Professor Stephan Bevan from the Institute of Employment Studies says that obese people who are worried about travelling on public transport should arrive later or work from home in order to protect their mental health.
‘It can be working time, it can be having a bit of understanding that someone might need to turn up at 10 o’clock because they have trouble with transport or anxiety about transport,’ he says.
‘I don’t think enough [employers] regard being overweight and obese as part of the family of conditions or impairments that they need to do something about.’
He goes on to say that obesity should be treated like any other chronic health condition, in a bid to stop workplace discrimination.
‘Some people say that obesity is the last characteristic that it’s still socially acceptable to make fun of. There is a widespread belief among doctors, employers and society that obesity is self-inflicted and is a lifestyle choice.
‘They don’t believe making adjustments for people with obesity is as important or deserved as someone with what they regard as a ‘proper disability.’
As you might expect, Professor Bevan’s comments have received a rather mixed reception, with the Daily Mail reporting the head of lifestyle economics and the Institute for Economic Affairs as labelling them ‘ludicrous’.
‘(It) will only create resentment against obese people if it were implemented,’ says Christopher Snowdon.
‘Being fat is not a disability and the majority of people get to work by car so it is difficult to see why obese people should be given an extra hour to arrive.
‘If obese people are to be given special privileges, should we not also give special privileges to smokers, alcoholics and compulsive gamblers? Where does it end?’