Highlights from last week’s equality and diversity news – pointless ‘presenteeism’ among British workers, rising levels of stress, UK’s first ‘male mother’ and rights of disabled people when flying.

Are you one of those people who can’t stop checking work email even when away from work? There’s a new term for such people – STOIC (sick though often inbox checking). Health insurer Ellipse, together with occupational stress expert Professor Cary Cooper, have recently released findings suggesting that the British are rapidly becoming a nation of STOICs, where we feel we have to be ‘always on’ when it comes to work. The twin pressures of modern technology and job insecurity are making it increasingly hard for employees to switch off from work, leading to a pointless ‘presenteeism’ where they are neither working productively nor convalescing effectively.

This research  is especially interesting when read alongside the report that workers in the UK are more stressed now than in Coronation year (60 years ago). A special Work Audit by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has thrown up some startling comparisons. Reported rates of stress have increased dramatically over the last few decades. The spectre of unemployment and lack of job security have certainly contributed to rising stress levels. The report also suggests that the boom in digital technology could be partly to blame, with workers feeling overloaded by information on the one hand and under persistent surveillance by employers on the other.

A trans man is believed to have become UK’s first ‘male mother’ to give birth despite having already had gender reassignment surgery. A much publicised case of a man becoming a ‘mother’ was that of Thomas Beatie, a trans man living in the United States. Such cases have raised questions over family and parenting law, some of which were discussed by Dr Julie McCandless on this blog.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed two claims of discrimination supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, narrowing the rights of disabled people when flying. The judges decided that international rules on air travel should take precedence over domestic law on accessibility and discrimination onboard aeroplanes. This ruling means that, after boarding the plane, disabled passengers are not covered by UK law and the European Regulation on air travel.  Nor can disabled people seek compensation from the airline if they are discriminated against during a flight. The Commission is considering taking the cases to the Supreme Court.

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