I must respond to the letters from Janet Mckenzie and Eleanor London (Personnel Today, 3 April). Although Mckenzie recognises that obesity may not be a matter of choice, she then states that “for the vast majority of those who are unhealthily overweight there is an often significant element of personal responsibility in the choices they have made”.
The last time I looked, I lived in a democracy, which means I have the right to make those choices without having to make reference to my employer (who actually only pays for seven hours out of each day).
The problem is that most employers think they can interfere with their employees’ personal lives and do it without fear of being held to account for it.
The most common abuse is asking staff to stay overnight in a hotel without actually paying for this time – which isn’t theirs in the first place – an assumption that most UK organisations make.
Now for London’s statement: “Peopleturn their lives around by choosing to take responsibility for their health.”
I am three stone overweight, but do not feel the need to ‘turn my life around’. I choose to be this weight. I am not unhappy.I do not lack self-confidence and do not need help. I live my life the way I want to and it’s nobody else’s business but mine. Anything else smacks of bossy, finger-wagging control freakery.
It may be a matter of personal choice or responsibility, but increasingly there is a failure to recognise that people do have the right to make such choices, whatever those may be.
Richard Essery, union steward and HR professional