Friday, March 09, 2007

British Airways pilot wins the right to fly part-time

British AirwaysA 27 year old British Airways (BA) pilot has won the right to work part-time -- 50% of her normal schedule -- in order to spend more time raising her young daughter.

The pilot, Jessica Starmer, actually won an employment tribunal claim of indirect sex discrimination in 2005, but it was expected that British Airways would take the case to the Court of Appeal. Today, however, BA backed down and announced that they had decided not to appeal, and that Ms. Starmer would be allowed to reduce her hours to half.

A BBC News article about this development quoted a joint statement by British Airways and the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA), the union that represents BA pilots:
"It is now three years since Mrs Starmer first asked to reduce her working hours to 50%.

"Since that time, Mrs Starmer has been working at 75% and British Airways recognises the high standards that she has been able to maintain.

"Her flying experience has now reached a level which, together with other measures agreed with British Airways, satisfies its safety concerns and meets its high level of operating standards.

"British Airways intends that pilots in similar circumstances to Mrs Starmer will be eligible for 50% contracts subject to the same measures in the future."
Jim McAuslan, general secretary of BALPA, said: "This is only one step in Balpa's effort to get the industry to be more flexible in accommodating individuals who want lifestyle choice.

"Pilots are in a highly skilled profession, in short supply, and unless airlines start to show flexibility, they will struggle to recruit among this talented pool," he said.

Ms. Starmer's husband is a pilot as well.

Click here to read the whole text of the joint statement on the BALPA website.