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Staff Stood Down for Being Overweight

Published 04 Sep 2017

Fonterra has been in the spotlight this week after summarily standing down some of their truck drivers, following advice from the manufacturers of their milk trucks that some of Fonterra's drivers may be exceeding the safety weight limit for the truck seats.

It is understood 2 of a potential 50 of their staff weighing more than 140kg have been given alternative duties subsequent to warnings regarding weight limits on seats and safety restraints for some models of the trucks they use.

Fonterra's position was that safety came first. There is a legal and moral responsibility to protect staff from known risks, and they are simply acting on new advice from the truck manufacturers. There is no talk of redundancy at this stage, affected staff are being offered 'health and wellness' programmes in an attempt to get them back to a safe weight, meanwhile alternative duties and upskilling in those areas are available.

Unions were quick to point out that staff had not gained weight since being employed for the role and this being blatent discrimination and humiliating.

In New Zealand obesity is not classed as a disabillity, and therefore does not qualify as discrimination under the Human Rights Act. An employee must be fit to do the role for which are are employed, and 'fitness for work' is not an uncommon employment issue.