View Full Version : BA Pilot's sex discrimination case. (Update: Now includes Tribunal's judgement)

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3rd Feb 2005, 17:54
OK, You're Wrong.....................!!!;)

3rd Feb 2005, 20:10
Ha! I'm outta here. Call me a cab. (go on.........)

4th Feb 2005, 01:43
I've spoken to many BA Airbus pilots about this...

They are livid - and believe BA should throw the book at her and tell her where to go.

Many of them want part-time,and have waited years for it with still no sight of it - she has it after 5 minutes here and demands more.... :mad:

None of them are behind her, in fact they are all very angry, as they believe she is taking the **** after doing one years work in 4 comparitively.

They are all on max hours, she has virtually done very little compared to them, and has ALREADY got a p/t contract and DEMANDS more....

There is very little/zero suppport for this case from the Airbus pilots at BA - they are very angry it has come to this..................

4th Feb 2005, 10:05
My question is : why do they have kids and then expect the comapines to sort out their problems...?? Going into the aviation industry..she had to of known that kids and full time piloting don´t go that well together... Get rid off her and give the job to someone that needs the time and money...

5th Feb 2005, 22:27
There is very little/zero suppport for this case from the Airbus pilots at BA - they are very angry it has come to this..................

Well I'm an Airbus pilot at BA and I support Jessica

So you'll have to modify your latest posting, Anti-ice, if you want to be strictly correct.

Having spoken to senior BA BALPA officials recently they are gobsmacked at the head-in-the sand attitudes displayed by many such as the 'antis' on the forum.

Hey, wannabes. Guess what - airline pilot is a job, just like any other and is subject to UK employment law and Tribunals, just like any other.

BA as an employer is committed to all types of flexible working - I was told this by a manager the other day and it's in the employment bit on the intranet. Seems like some people can't grasp that simple fact.

5th Feb 2005, 22:57
An expert in sexual politics told us this was part of a new global trend away from sexual equality and back to treating women as intellectually-inferior walking vaginas. "For the past 50 years or so, the world has flirted with the idea that women are equal to men," he told us. "But we've slowly come to realise that they're too obsessed with their hair to ever be any real use. And then there's the crying and being understanding all the time — apart from when they're on the blob, when they're absolutely nuts. How is a country supposed to function with people like that in positions of responsibility?"

Women's equality gone too far: God
'I never made them for serious work'
by Kieren McCarthy
Feminists were dealt a blow last night when one observer said women's equality in the West had gone too far and new laws were needed to reintroduce the natural status quo.

Incredibly though, this view was not put forward by a Sid the Sexist wannabe but The Lord himself, creator of worlds and the universe's most famous omniscient being: God.

In a prepared statement made at Notre Dame in Paris, God broke over a thousand years of silence to make his non-PC views known. "I should like it to be known to all human beings on the planet Earth — and women in particular — that this recent trend towards giving females enforceable rights of equality on every par goes against the natural order and should henceforth be ended," the statement began.

"I can't for the life of me understand how you have diverted so fast from what is a pretty blooming obvious route. But despite me constantly sending ambassadors to give you a push in the right direction, you've set up a social and legal system that entitles people to possess rights that logic would appear to prohibit.

"The best example of this is women. What on Earth have you got women running the affairs of countries for? You can't have failed to notice that they are completely incapable of rational thinking — what you call logic? Let me let you in a little secret: rationality is the essential element of running any system.

"Not only that but you are forcing yourselves to change your views and traditions because your version of the law says you must. Why have you got women in the armed forces? I never made them for fighting. Look at them for My's sake: huge fleshy mounds everywhere. And sport? Dear oh dear. If they were meant to play sport, I'd have let them throw."

Angry scenes at the press conference sparked God to explain his stance however. "Look, I'm not saying women are inferior. Both sexes are inferior. But women are made to bear children, look after other human beings and mediate disputes when violence is unsuitable. Isn't this bloody obvious? Just look at yourselves."

Despite pressure from short-haired bulldykes, God refused to list men's negative attributes. "Look, I've not into putting people down. I'm just here to sort a few things out." He denied that he was in denial since he had made man in his own image.

The press conference was then hijacked by hordes of blinkered, screaming bigots and freaks who represented the world's religions. The Archbishop of Canterbury elbowed the Pope out the way to ask God to ordain Christianity as the one true religion. "Don't be ridiculous," he told the Archbishop. "Jesus was the start of all this palaver, going on about everyone being equal or whatever it was. That's why I recalled him and sent Mohammed to sort the mess out."

An unidentified Caliph butted in to enquire whether Islam was then indeed the true faith. "Well, the Muslims are not exactly infallible but you are more right than the Christians. At least you kill criminals. That's something that's bothered me for ages — why don't you just kill them? It's not as if there aren't enough of you."

Chief Rabbi Professor Jonathan then asked where this left Judaism. God confessed he still has a soft spot for the Jews whom he said have continued to follow the first set of teachings he laid down when he was last on Earth, but announced he was "disappointed" with their current progress.

God then batted away further questions. "I don't have time for any of this, the missus will go mental if I'm late back. What I'm here to say is sort out this sex situation." This apparent failure to even get the basics right is what has resulted in the creation of TV celebrities, Pot Noodles and the failure of man to find that Pluto is actually made of uranium, providing him with the means to take an interstellar trip to God's own planet where the first arrival will win a special prize, God explained.

"I'll give you a 1,000 years to sort it out," he told the assembled crowd. "If it's still a mess then I'll send down Armageddon to get tough. Okay?"

6th Feb 2005, 02:38
I am astounded at the concept of being able to go to part time. That would never happen here in the good ol' US of A. The beancounters would sh## at the thought of paying a pilot full benefits for part time work. Training expenses alone would put any scheme like that to rest.

And what about her qualifications. No male pilot would ever get hired by a major airline here with only 1000 hours unless they were in the space shuttle. Minimums are usually 2500 hours but minimums are for fighter jocks who typically don't get much total time. She should be grateful that BA hired her with no experience instead of trying to work the system.

We have had a couple of female pilots like that here. Always working the system and can't fly for sh##. Thankfully, the rest of them are great sticks with loads of experience and they work hard and are able to handle their family responsibilities along with their husbands (the ones that do have children). We also have male pilots that work the system and can't fly for sh## as well but that is not the point here.

My wife is a F/A and we have 3 kids at home with the youngest 3 years old. I fly 92 hours a month, she works 60 to 70. We make it work out so that the baby only has to be at the sitters one or two nights a week at most. We can't both be home together all the time but we can still be together more than if I worked in an office 60 hours a week like my neighbors (most are managers or other professionals). To think that my employer would be forced to disrupt my coworkers schedules to accomodate my reproductive urges is just absurd to me. But hey, I live in a country that has G Bush as president.

6th Feb 2005, 08:24
I now understand why the aviation industry is as shallow as an outback puddle in the dry season. You guys who are against the request of 50% working time I imagine are all for raising children preferably with a parent home a majority of the time. Or at least until it does not appear to disadvantage you in any way.

Love your wife making a comfortable home to return to, looking after the children? What if she had a passion for a job, but it was all or nothing because of corporate policy which in this case is backed by the small minded selfish majority? I suppose she does not have the right to do something that gives her purpose?? Go home and tell your wives or partners that!!! See what reaction you get.

6th Feb 2005, 09:20
There is very little/zero suppport for this case from the Airbus pilots at BA - they are very angry it has come to this..................

Well I'm another Airbus pilot at BA and I also support Jessica.
So Anti-ice, you will really have to modify your latest posting as it just ain't correct! :ok:

Big Hilly
6th Feb 2005, 16:14
I'm afraid you're way off the mark there Anti-Ice, most do strongly support her.

Yes, crew are operating on max hours, but let us not forget that that was meant to be a 'temporary measure' – a fact that has been conveniently forgotten about since it’s been realised that it really is possible to get blood out of a stone!

The bottom line here is that we have here a very brave individual who is prepared to stand up to the management for what she thinks is right, whilst the rest of us happily ‘put up’ with getting pushed around, made to jump through hoops and having our integrity and professionalism eroded. . . and what happens?
She gets shot down in flames on here by bigots and people whose only experience of being on an airliner is chomping nuts, drinking Bacardi and Pepsi Max and working out cunning, new strategies for how to be the first person through the aircraft door when it lands. Let’s face it, if more people were prepared to stand up to the beancounters, we wouldn’t all be in the mess that we’re in now. . .


6th Feb 2005, 17:08


Oxford English Dictionary definition:
Noun - a person who is prejudiced in their views and intolerant of the opinions of others.

PPRuNe definition (pop. usage):
(1) Noun - a person who disagrees with my views, and is obviously prejudiced or they would agree with me.
(2) Noun - a person who disagrees with my views, and obviously doesn't understand or they would see I'm right.


High Viz Vest
6th Feb 2005, 17:51
What if she had a passion for a job, but it was all or nothing because of corporate policy which in this case is backed by the small minded selfish majority?

Then perhaps she should have chosen a career that had 'normal' hours of work and fitted in with spending time whith her children?

I think its a case of its kids or flying but not both, maybe she could get a job with a small commuter airline that had more of a 9 till 5 roster?

Why not take a break from flying for 5 years or so to spend time with the child before returning to work after its at school.

Life is all about choices. If she doesnt like BA's policy then leave, she should have asked the questions at the interview :*

Big Hilly
6th Feb 2005, 18:13

True indeed, my old chum. :ok:

In the context of this case, however, I cannot think of a more apt definition than that of the 17th Century Poet, William Drummond: He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; and he that dares not reason is a slave. ;)


Girl Flyday
6th Feb 2005, 19:35

Just curious, but on what grounds exactly do you support her?

I may be wrong, but my assumption is that she knew the rules when she gained a sponsorship with BA (which many, many others would have been happy to accept) - and so I don't really understand why either you or she think that the rules should be changed to suit her. The fact that other airlines may accept 50% working is surely immaterial, if she chose to work for one which did not...

But guys - knocking all women pilots is juvenille and unwarrented. I know several who have made it as professional pilots and are as good at the job as their male counterparts - and who would not even consider doing as this lady has done. So please, don't tar all with the same brush, as it is not only unfair on the majority, but also reduces what could be a good case to one of blatent sexual descrimination.

And whatever her friends may say, I still think that chosing to work for an airline who does not offer the working practices she desires, and being selected above many others who would love to be in her shoes - yet then trying to sue them for not changing their rules to suit her, is taking the piss!

She had several options, which she chose to ignore:

Work for another airline
Not get pregnant
Put up and shut up
Do the required length of service to enable her to work 50%
Go for a profession that would allow her to do as she likes
Let her husband go for the cut in hours instead

But what did she do instead? Accept a job that many others would have loved - and then in effect stick two fingers up at both them and her employer by trying to change the system to suit her!

Is it any wonder that the MCP idiots are now saying that it's a mistake to employ women at all??? If a man had done the same, the case would be laughed out of court! As a woman, I firmly believe that equality is our right - but that positive descrimination is not only a bad thing, but is damaging as well.

6th Feb 2005, 20:22
It is reasonable for a parent to want to be facilitated in caring for h/er child.
It is reasonable for BA to want to maintain its rosters.
This is a clash of rights.
European Union Law recognises the right of a parent in these circumstances to be reasonably facilitated.
The welfare of children includes parental care.
The law "discriminates" against administrative convenience in favour of parental duty / desire!!
Those who plead the "cake and eat it" cliche should research the Luddite philosophy and then the Suffragettes Movement. They entered this dissertation and so are literate but in need of enlightenment.
What if the request had been made by the father?

Girl Flyday
6th Feb 2005, 20:45
If the request had been made by the father, then it would have been granted, as he had worked the prequisite amount of time. Therfore, if this was purely a childcare issue, then surely the father would have taken the cut in hours, safe in the knowledge that it was his right, and he would then be free to look after the child???

7th Feb 2005, 00:14
Girl Flyday:

I am guessing you are female :p . I don't have to have 'grounds' to support her, but as you asked, it's because I am an employee of the same company, on the same fleet, I am currently part-time myself (I am a bloke) and I went part-time (PTWK) on childcare grounds (pauses for incoming wave of flaming from guys in the USA with antiquated attitudes to labour of the work kind not the pregnancy).

When I was granted PTWK I was at a regional base and the ONLY option available was 50%. When I was transferred to LHR due to base closure, I remained at this status initially. I expect that soon I will be reverting to full-time, and the company's generous policy has been a tremendous help to my family situation.

Now when Jessica wanted to vary PTWK down to 50% herself, the company was in the position of being very short-staffed on the fleet due to its own policies; they had not recruited enough, basically, and they hurriedly came up with a rule that all those with fewer than 2000hrs could not be 50%. This was done AFTER she had applied for 50% and smacks of stable doors closing.

BALPA fought the tribunal not only on behalf of Jessica, but for all emplyees, especially female, to have the flexibility of working open to them. As an aside, they hit back at BA management with the argument that managers were not subject to such restrictions yet they are effectively part-time fliers themeselves, yet always appear when the England Footie team need flying somewhere.

I am heartily sick of reading that airline flying is incompatible with part-time working. This is manifestly not true as many UK airlines who have part-timers on their books will testify.

I am supporting Jessica against the prejudices of those who cannot or will not understand that as employees, we should be striving to make our working conditions better, not returning to some dark-age view of serfdom where we are paid in company vouchers.

To clarify, Jessica is not advocating a change in the rules to suit her as the rules were changed AFTER she applied. With that fact at your fingertips, I'm sure you will realise that most of your last but one post is irrelevant. You are missing the point in a huge way and are therefore damaging the female pilot cause.

The individual concerned is highly motivated towards her employer. Can you not see that she and BALPA are attempting to IMPROVE the cause for women pilots?

PS: Girl Flyday: how do you know that the father isn't part-time already?

Alex Whittingham
7th Feb 2005, 07:21
BA's subsidiary, BA Citiexpress, allows mothers to return to work on a 50% roster if they choose. BA are very quick to claim the same personnel rules apply to their subsidiary when it suits them and equally quick to disassociate themselves when it does not.

As observed elsewhere, the part-time roster is not a 'shirkers charter'. The part-time pilots do not seem to be rostered standbys and consequently often work at 70% - 90% of a full roster for half the pay.

7th Feb 2005, 10:48
If anyone knows Jessica, perhaps they would invite her to make a comment? This thread is wafting in all directions. ;)

Human Factor
7th Feb 2005, 10:58
I would imagine she couldn't even if she wanted to as the case is probably still sub judice.

7th Feb 2005, 12:07
I am a female pilot working for BA and I don't support Jessica. I started quite a few months after her but already have over 50% more hours. BA have paid tens of thousands of pounds for her training and I don't think it is unreasonable to expect some commitment back. I'm not saying that women should choose between their career and family(unlike some of the chauvinists on this forum). What I'm saying is that if you choose to go into an industry such as ours - especially one so male dominated - then you need to make a concious decision to commit yourself to it for a while. I know that when I've had a couple of weeks leave and I go back to work that I am distinctly slower than before my leave. I can't believe that after only having flown 1000 hours in the space of 4 years that Jessica feels herself experienced enough to deal with this feeling every month.

As a part time worker on the fleet she is already able to choose the cream of the trips and manipulate her roster, and her lifestyle, to a much greater extent than her colleagues with the same seniority on full time. It seems strange that she can't work day trips most of the month therefore being able to spend a vast amount more time with her daughter, but of course living in Dorset she won't want to drive the round trip every day. To me this is a case of wanting your cake and eating it. You have to make some decisions and I think taking BA to a tribunal when there are other things she could do to improve her life is taking the mickey slightly.

Although I don't support Jessica in this instance I wouldn't hesitate to support other female pilots with a lot more hours and therefore experience. There is no reason why females can't do this job and have a family. Some of the comments on this thread are beyond belief in this day and age and I'm not sure how some comments can be argued when there are plenty of men flying part time as well. I do my job as well as the blokes and although I've always realised that I was going to face sexism of sorts from some people I didn't quite realise how many people really don't believe a female should be allowed on the flight deck till I read this thread.

Girl Flyday - I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. All we want is equality, positive discrimination does our cause no end of damage.

7th Feb 2005, 12:24
a) Can an employee DEMAND part-time working from their employer?

I don't have intimate knowledge of the law in this respect but I don't think they can. (Exception being returning to work immediately after childbirth?)

b) Does BA have the resources to offer PTW to anyone who wants it?

At the moment, on the pilot's side, I don't think they do. It would be a good thing to aim at for the future but is not practical in the present.

c) How do they decide, given that there are more applications than places, who gets PTW?

With difficulty, I imagine. How do you decide 'merit' in individual cases? Maybe they have a 'points system', i.e. 1 child = 1 pt, 2 children = 2, single parent = 2.5, ethnic minority = 1.5, old grandmother = 0.75, round-the-world cruise = 0.25, etc.

d) What are the implications inherent in a win for the plaintiff in the current tribunal?

The first thing that comes to mind is that PTW for males will be effectively unavailable as all the 'slots' will be taken by females. The second is that BA will probably stop actively recruiting women and just advertise for 'pilots'.

e) How is PTW handled in other departments in the Company?

Cabin crew, who now consist of something like 60-70% part-timers, put their names down on a list. When they get to the top, they are offered PTW on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. No 'value judgements' required.

7th Feb 2005, 13:53
Under current legislation, any employer must consider an employees request for part time working and can only refuse in certain circumstances - business needs is usually the one quoted by companies when refusing.

In this instance I'm quite sure that Jessica has a valid claim for part time working, but not sexual discrimination which is what the hearing is all about.

7th Feb 2005, 14:56
Having just come to this thread with 20 pages I really haven't time to read everything so apologies if this has been posted before and I've missed it.

Yes a rumour, but I heard that females account for 5% of pilots within BA yet account for 50% of part time pilots. There are many male pilots who wish for part time working (some to look after children too) so in a way this case stinks as Jessica falls into the groups that has benefitted due gender (perhaps unintentionally though), not been discriminated against.

I know this has been mentioned above but on the Airbus in BA there appears very little support for this 'sex discrimination' case whilst many do support her wish for more part time but only in a fair way, see Fullwings posting just above this one about the CC part time list.

7th Feb 2005, 15:30
people whose only experience of being on an airliner is chomping nuts, drinking Bacardi and Pepsi Max and working out cunning, new strategies for how to be the first person through the aircraft door when it lands.
That'll be the people who mean you have a job then? Maybe we should not fly so much, see how some of you enjoy the dole queue.

Arrogant :mad:

Big Hilly
7th Feb 2005, 16:10
That'll be the people who mean you have a job then? Yes that's them. Then again, just because I pay for private health insurance, it doesn't give me the right to tell the surgeon where to stick his scalpel when he's operating on my wife does it?

I'm not going to waste the moderators' valuable time or Danny's bandwidth by turning this into a flame war. Feel free to PM me and I'll be more than happy to set you straight off the record. . . . :E


7th Feb 2005, 16:14
Then again, just because I pay for private health insurance, it doesn't give me the right to tell the surgeon where to stick his scalpel when he's operating on my wife does it? Oooh! Touche!

Say what you like about Big Hilly - he's come up with some corking threads!

Anyone know when the verdict is expected?



Flying Lawyer
7th Feb 2005, 18:39
Quick answer, but it's not really a true analogy. Nobody's presuming to tell pilots how they should fly the aircraft.

You don't need to be on the Airbus fleet, to work for BA, or even be a pilot at all to express a valid opinion on the points of principle in this discussion.

7th Feb 2005, 18:48
Very sensible comments in my opinion. Your point about being abit slower after you have had some time off is highly relevant and of course gender irrelevant
As SLF and a (very) frequent flyer on BA, I know a number of us pax are following this case, purely froman operational safety point of view.
Looking forward to travelling on oneof your flights..

Big Hilly
7th Feb 2005, 19:14
Flying Lawyer,

As usual, we'll have to agree to differ; all I'll say is that I wouldn't presume to pass judgement on say, how your Head of Chambers chooses to run your set of chambers simply because I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Rumpole of The Bailey. . . .

Regards, as always, "My Old Darling", ;)


Big Hilly
7th Feb 2005, 21:03
Sorry WR, but I fail to see the correlation between my quote and your statement.

One of the great things about PPRuNe is the great diversity of people that it attracts. . . usually with one common interest: aviation; this includes the aviation nuts and the aviating nut-munchers. ;) (That was a joke for those who have had a sense of humour lobotomy).

What I do find slightly offensive here are those who say things like: “She shouldn’t have got up the duff in the first place” or “women. . . they should be tied to the kitchen sink. . . they have no place in a cockpit” (or words to that effect).

At then end of the day, we have here a person who was prepared to stand up FOR WHAT SHE FEELS IS RIGHT! Whether we agree with her case or not, let’s not turn start attacking her blindly. . . who knows? Some good may just come out of this for us all. . . .


Flying Lawyer
7th Feb 2005, 21:36

The equivalent of telling a surgeon where to stick his scalpel (your analogy) would be telling a barrister how to conduct a trial, not how to run his chambers.
Friends of mine who work in the commercial world are very free with their comments about how barristers' chambers are run - usually expressions of disbelief!

That aside, wouldn't you agree that, regardless of the detail of this particular case, the underlying clash of opinions here is between those who believe it's reasonable in the 'modern world' that employers should adjust to accommodate working mothers (and be forced to if they won't) and those who think if couples wish to have careers which take them both away from home as well as having children, they should accept responsiblity for planning their own lives without looking to employers to accommodate their wishes - even if it means one of them having to make a choice between children and career?
Some people think being forced to make a choice is outrageous; others think it's perfectly reasonable.
One side accuses the other of being stuck in a time warp; their opponents argue that 'traditional' family values are not necessarily bad just because they've been around a long time.

All I meant was that the issue isn't unique to pilots, and you don't need to be a pilot to express a view on the broad principles/issues.
Do we really disagree on that? ;)

I'm neither a professional pilot nor an employment lawyer and, since the absurd change in the law post 9/11, I now have to sit down the back eating nuts etc. I've still found the discussion and the various views very interesting, not only reactions to the particular case but the conflict between modern and traditional family values.


You say Jessica is standing up for what she feels is right - there are clearly conflicting views about whether she's motivated by high principle or self-interest.
Either way, she's not going to attract the respect and admiration of those who consider what she feels, and is standing up for, is completely wrong.
I willingly concede that, if I knew all the facts, I might admire her and hope she wins. On the limited facts posted here, and on BALPA's website, I don't and I hope she doesn't.



7th Feb 2005, 21:40
Big Hilly,

What I do find slightly offensive here are those who say things like: “She shouldn’t have got up the duff in the first place” or “women. . . they should be tied to the kitchen sink. . . they have no place in a cockpit” (or words to that effect).I totally agree.
...we have here a person who was prepared to stand up FOR WHAT SHE FEELS IS RIGHT!This may indeed be the case but a lot of people in BA would re-phrase that to read:

"... we have here a person who was prepared to stand up FOR WHAT SHE WANTS AND SOD EVERYONE ELSE!"

Big Hilly
7th Feb 2005, 22:20

The scalpel analogy was indeed a quick and perhaps ill thought-out reply, which is partly why I modified it to that of your Head of Chambers.

No, you don’t need to be a pilot to express a view on the broad issues (your words) of the case, but I do think that you need to be one to express a view on the specifics of this particular case.

It is not within our gift to pass judgement nor indeed comment as to whether Jessica was right to conceive and give birth to a child; that is entirely her own business and clearly none of us on this board (pilots or otherwise) should even be questioning that right but yet many do seem to think that they can. . . Apart from this, many others feel that they have the right to comment on the fact that British Airways sponsored this lady and how many thousands of other people would be lucky to have had such an opportunity and what a waste that is. . . again, this is a matter for her and her alone. But then we get to the people who feel that a part-time pilot is far more dangerous than a full time pilot. When I was flying fast-jets for the RAF I flew far less hours than I do now as a commercial pilot, (infact probably about the same as a part-time BA pilot) was I unsafe then? It is this level of understanding that I question that you need to be a pilot to comments on the SPECIFICS of the case.

As a barrister, you are protected by the Bar Council (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong as I’m not a barrister) but as I understand it, the worse case scenario is that if you are found guilty of Professional Misconduct or are found to have provided Inadequate Professional Services you are only required to repay your fees (up to £5000) and say sorry. . . . As yet, barristers have not been subject to the level of ‘dumbing-down’ that we have seen in our profession (i.e. where everyone feels that they are an expert and could do a better job than those of us trained to do so) and it is in this respect that I make no excuse for sticking up for my colleagues.

It’s late, and I need to go to bed; there are poor, unsuspecting souls who need to flown around by an 'arrogant :mad:' such as I tomorrow and I need my sleep, because, if I screw up, I’ll need your services and you and I may just be on the same side for once. . . . ;)


7th Feb 2005, 23:31
I don't know about your RAF fast jet time Big Hilly (way after my time I suspect) but I do remember the "career" pilots who first thought of their future, which did not mean flying, and spent an inordinate time furthering this desire whilst the rest of us did the early mornings, late nights, air tests, etc. Those guys played the system to their own ends and some achieved the goal of high office with little airborne time. Meanwhile the rest of the flying motivated bunch flew their butts off, mostly enjoying it but occasionally noticing that ones social and parental life was not perfect. The part time career flyer was more and more obvious by his poor and barely acceptable flying performance, and invariably wound up on a Sqn or flying unit where lack of front line abilities was not noticeable.
Please don't try and bull**** us with "you're not a pilot and don't understand" therefore don't comment.
The Lady can fly but if she doesn't put the hours in she will not be as experienced as those who do have the time. Consequently and until she has the the hours she should not expect to be able to work the hours available to experienced pilots.
As SLF now, I would prefer both pilots of my BA flight to be current.
Finally there is no comparison between low flying hours flown in the Mil fast jet world and as an ATPL in a commercial aircraft with lots of fare paying passengers. One may "get away with it" as Richthoffen but certainly not as "Captain speaking".

8th Feb 2005, 10:58
Late on in the debate but having tried to keep up with the case surely it boils down to wether there was an agreement to allow part time work with that particular experience level when the person applied for that option.
Arguments of the ability of a particular gender to perform certain jobs are really a none starter in this day and age and say more about the person questioning equal opportunities. Women can perform equally as well as men (apart from stone skimming that is).

Flying Lawyer
8th Feb 2005, 11:37
Big Hilly
The worst case scenario for a barrister found guilty of Professional Misconduct is being struck off. The worst case scenario in financial terms for negligence in a particular case is being ordered to pay damages to the client for any loss incurred as a result. We aren't allowed to practise without professional indemnity insurance and it isn't cheap - one negligent mistake in court could mean a claim for £millions.

"As yet, barristers have not been subject to the level of ‘dumbing-down’ that we have seen in our profession"?
Come on, almost every man and his dog feels able to comment on what lawyers do wrong, what the courts do wrong, how barristers and judges are out of touch with the real world, that we're all money-grabbing liars who won't help anyone unless we're being paid big fat and totally unjustifiable fees etc etc

As someone who works closely with the industry, and with many professional pilot friends, I have the impression there has been some 'dumbing down' of the profession of pilot in recent years, but more within than outside - and stems IMHO from policies within certain companies (BA for one). The vast majority of passengers realise pilots are highly qualified people who've successfully completed long and demanding training to obtain their professional qualifications, and still have enormous respect for pilots. I do.

PS: I agree with you re the 'part-time/safety' argument - you need to be a professional pilot to comment on that aspect of the dispute.

8th Feb 2005, 13:25
Big Hilly
Not within our gift to pass judgement nor comment? Why not? It's a discussion.

"Whether Jessica was right to conceive and give birth to a child is entirely her own business."
Right on target Sir! :ok: That's what a lot of folk here have been saying here all along. It's her and her husband's business and they should sort themselves out not expect the company to do it.
Sure it's her own business but she made it company business by trying to have her cake and eat it and then running off to lawyers when she don't get her own way.
Beats me why you think people ain't allowed to comment on the fact that British Airways just sponsored her through an expensive training program. :confused:

8th Feb 2005, 14:43
The argument about currency is a false one as the CAA make no such demands on the licence holder. I thought that had been done to death earlier in the thread.

Roghead: There is no question that BA pilots will not be 'current', even part-time ones. You are skating on thin ice here with statements like this.

BA's case is a tenuous one brought about by fleet manpower shortages and a rule has been introduced retrospectively after the application was made. That is partly why this has come to tribunal.

Sponsored BA pilots partly pay back their training costs with reduced salary.

Jessica is not 'having her cake and eating it' - what on earth does that mean? Her pay will be reduced commensurate with hours worked.

Chippy63: better watch out for me as well as I am part-time. I have just passed a 6-monthly sim check where the issue was not even raised. The Trg Capt who conducted the detail was not even aware I was PTWK. Are you suggesting I or other part-timers are in some way less safe? If so, how? The CAA do not hold that view. Your comments re operational safety are ignorant and highly offensive.

8th Feb 2005, 15:15
Its not about whether someone working part time is safe, of course they are or it wouldn't be allowed. Its about whether someone with only 1000 hours is being unresponsible to not only their passengers but also their crew and company by having so little experience and being unable to increase this properly by working 50% and therefore lacking continuity.

Big Hilly
8th Feb 2005, 15:50

I stand entirely corrected about your liability, as I said, I'm not a Barrister but I guess it just goes to prove that unfounded assumptions and a little knowledge really are dangerous things. . . .

I do think, however, that you are confusing the 'dumbing-down' of one’s professional status with simple 'name-calling'. We all get called names be it 'fat cat lawyer' or 'womanising, over paid, steel tube drivers'. My point is; when was the last time a member of the public questioned publicly your ability to perform effectively or efficiently because you're self-employed or because you're not constantly up on your hind-legs in court? . . .


Flying Lawyer
8th Feb 2005, 16:07
Agreed. :ok: People who aren't professional pilots presuming to comment on the safety aspect of BA's rule re part-time flying are being silly.
Non-pilots are obviously entitled to express a view on whether an employer should be obliged to make exceptions from any rule or practice for working mothers.

9th Feb 2005, 00:13
Girl999 thanks for saying what I clumsily meant. Of course all BA pilots are current if they are flying under the terms of their licence, but some are more current than others or as you stated far more eloquently "Its about whether someone with only 1000 hours is being unresponsible to not only their passengers but also their crew and company by having so little experience and being unable to increase this properly by working 50% and therefore lacking continuity"
I still believe that she is taking the **** at the expense of the majority of the hard working full time pilots- male or female.

9th Feb 2005, 08:20

I agree!

10th Feb 2005, 06:29
Big Hilly
My point is; when was the last time a member of the public questioned publicly your ability to perform effectively or efficiently because you're self-employed or because you're not constantly up on your hind-legs in court? . . .

I'm a latecomer to this thread. I think the substantive issues have already been dealt with. But I can't let your question to FL pass without comment.

Problem for us lawyers is that, generally speaking, we're only as good as our last win. Being self employed has its attractions. But one's reputation is constantly on display to our professional colleagues (who in many instances are competitors for work) and, most importantly, our clients.

Members of the public don't question publicly our ability to perform effectively or efficiently. They just take their business elsewhere if they (or their instructing solicitor) aren't happy with the service provided.

No one loves a loser – or a service provider who doesn’t deliver.

22nd Apr 2005, 08:05
Just being reported that JS has won her case for sex discrimination, could have significant financial implications for "all" UK and possibly EEC based airlines as pilots and other staff in similar situations seek parity.

22nd Apr 2005, 08:06
Do you have a link?

22nd Apr 2005, 08:41
Just the one (http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=4438096).

22nd Apr 2005, 09:01
Looks like BA are having a bad year in the courts.

They were also recently taken to court over the Working Time Directive.

Apparantly they have only been paying shift workers 48 weeks shift pay instead of the full (and legally required) 52.

Case won by the T&GWU.
BA are appealing. (Or is that an oxymoron?):\

If the ruling is upheld then all shift workers will be owed about 4 weeks shift pay backdated to August 2003.:ok:

22nd Apr 2005, 09:01
Sounds like the BA pilot selection process is spot on as usual. Nothing like recruiting hard working dedicated professionals.

Hot Wings
22nd Apr 2005, 09:35
Perhaps certain "groups" were given a "head start" - a process which is now illeagal.

22nd Apr 2005, 09:38
They recruited a significant number of girls in their eraly 20's in the late 80's/early 90's. What did they expect?

Jordan D
22nd Apr 2005, 09:56
BBC News now reporting the same at:



22nd Apr 2005, 10:02
Is it fair that a passenger board an aircraft piloted by a part-time pilot?

Would be interesting to hear your thoughts!

22nd Apr 2005, 10:04

Sure Willie will sort these types of things out!

22nd Apr 2005, 10:21
Part time pilots still have to make the grade in the sim.

Given the wider implications of this particular case, I imagine it will go all the way though every appeal process so it could be quite a long time before it reaches the end of the road.

Alex Whittingham
22nd Apr 2005, 10:23
You mean like being flown by a management pilot?

22nd Apr 2005, 10:24
BA Press Statement:

British Airways is very disappointed that the employment tribunal, which heard the case involving First Officer Jessica Starmer during January 2005, has found against the airline.

This case is about safety not gender.

Jessica Starmer currently works part time on a 75 per cent contract and British Airways has consistently said that the decision not to allow her to cut her working hours in half, to an average of just eight days a month, until she completes the required amount of flying hours was based on safety not sex discrimination.

British Airways will therefore be launching an appeal against the tribunal’s findings.

The tribunal rightly found that it is for British Airways to establish its own safety standards. These standards are above the minimum required by the Civil Aviation Authority. We are concerned and therefore puzzled that by reaching the decision it has the tribunal appears to interfere with the airline's right to set its own levels of safety standards and procedures.

British Airways believes that its pilots should have at least 2,000 flying hours experience – approximately three years of full time flying – before it is acceptable for them to work at 50 per cent levels, which equates to only eight days a month.

This safety threshold is applied equally, whether the pilot is male or female.

Safety has always been and will always be the top priority in everything that British Airways does.

22nd Apr 2005, 10:32
Well done Jessica ! Many more of us mothers will benefit from this decision - throughout the industry. A long overdue result - this IS the 21st Century.

Just one point, does anyone know if the Starmers were on Legal Aid? Or if they'd lost the case who would have paid the huge legal fees? Were BALPA helping?

You splitter
22nd Apr 2005, 10:49
Well done! Yeah right. Another nail in the coffin of sensibility, and the politically correct brigade are definately wielding the hammer!!

22nd Apr 2005, 10:52
Really happy for her to spend more time with her child, but our company would have an issue with a low-houred pilot only flying 8 days per month.

Like BA said, if she had many more hours then that's more arguable, but let's face it - she's going to spend the first few sectors trying to remember how to do it each month, that's not a great situation...

Who is going to do the other 50% too? I assume that she'll only be on 50% of her salary too? (Yes, that's the Management Side of me speaking...)

22nd Apr 2005, 10:56
I welcome lady pilots to our proffesion but i think this case is helping to drag standereds to an all time low. why should this women be given preferential treatment she knows the rules just like we all do. what saftey net we she try and challenge next?

I think she should reconsider her choice of proffesion if she does not want to work!

22nd Apr 2005, 11:11
In answer to an earlier question BALPA were funding Ms. Starmer's case. Although I fundamentally disagree with her aims I believe BALPA were right to do so.

Aside form the very real safety issue of a less than 2000 TT pilot flying only 8 days per month it is my feeling that such nice, touchy feely legislation, and decisions in favour thereof, is slowly driving up the UK's, and BA's in particular, costs. In fact the legislation dreamed up by the asinine idiots in Brussels seems primarily designed to make the EU totally uncompetitive.

Good luck to Ms. Starmer, I would probably have done the same in her position, but it makes me fearful for the future of my company already struggling with unsustainable overheads.

22nd Apr 2005, 11:12
Point of fact - a certain management pilot upon going to Chief Pilot, at a certain base, was given an expemtion from the CAA for the minimum requirements for unfreezing his ATPL in some way.

Are management professing that they are gods while the rest are not? That management pilot would work fewer hours than Jessica with the same experience behind him.

Not too keen on the case, but the airline changed the rules after she had applied for 50% in my understanding. Aside from the chauvanistic comments and the morality of what she is doing, it is still a grey area after this ruling. I cannot however understand why the airline bothers to fight to prove this point though - the rules when she applied for 50% allowed her to do so...goalpost changing due to insufficient pilot recruitment perhaps.

One can only wonder.

22nd Apr 2005, 11:16
Commonsense - safety - what else has gone out of the window here? Just how do these legal bods come to conclusions in what is really a specialised area.
She knew the rules just as those "Mums" in the AirForce did before they started getting mobilised and demanding changes to the rules. It is not a case of living in the 21st century. That is a trite phrase and is trotted out by these people.
There had been other cases where these "oppressed minorities" have recently been succesful in their cases - again flying in the face of the majority of opinions.
There is a phrase at the back of my mind - something to do with "jam" and "both sides being buttered".

22nd Apr 2005, 11:30
I have not read the full ruling but it seems from information available that BA changed the requirments for part-time work and if they did this after the application was recieved then they were wrong. On the wider issue of maintaining currency on type then personally I would find 8 days a month a bit of a challenge (I have trouble with the security code on the crew room after a week off!) and that's with a fair bit of experience. However, presumably this may not be a long term plan as with 30years to go and even allowing for more children then there is plenty of time for full time work to be gained by the employers. It is inevitable that there will seemingly be a conflict between work and children for women at this stage in their carreer, it is nature at work. Women should not be victimised just because they want to have children and work. We would be somewhat stuck if all women who worked just gave up on having a family.

22nd Apr 2005, 11:31
Interesting to see that BA is to launch an appeal.

I do not think that they should have too much trouble in shewing that the Tribunal has exceeded its powers in deciding for itself what were or were not genuine business reasons.

The law says that when a request for flexibilty is made there is a duty to meet and properly consider the request. The request can be refused where there are clear business grounds. These need to be communicated clearly.

Importantly, Regulations state that a Tribunal does not have the power to question the business reasons for rejecting the request, though, they can ask to see evidence of the facts relied on to reject the application; they will also be able to examine whether the reasons were properly explained to JS.

This is an important issue not just for BA but for us all. What the Tribunal has effectively said is that anyone can demand to work flexibly, as opposed to 'request' to work flexibly. This cannot be right.

I think it's yet another example of poorly thought out and drafted regulation, that has evaded proper parlimentary scrutiny. This is typical of what has been emerging over the last 8 years.

22nd Apr 2005, 12:05
In my book you can't accuse a company of sex discrimination one minute and then, in the same breath, claim that male and female workers need to be treated differently.

We all have to make choices in life. Sorry to disappoint the PC brigade, but there's no grand rule in life which says that all high-pressure jobs and positions of responsibility have to conveniently fit around motherhood and fatherhood. Bad luck.

Maybe I haven't been keeping up on events but I don't recollect a single female soldier in Iraq demanding to work part-time because they have to be home to look after the kids. They know the requirements of the job and, like professionals, they get on with it.

Personally I think the safety aspect is a red herring. BA's rules are BA's rules. Whether those rules are over-cautious or scarily slack is almost irrelevant - that's the level at which the company works and, if you don't like it, find another airline.

Far from being a step forward for female workers, I think this lady has simply given ammunition to those who think women can't hack it.

Hot Wings
22nd Apr 2005, 12:36
The real issue is that BA are short of pilots. Only 2% of BA's pilots are part time - compared with 37% of the cabin crew and a company average of 22%. BA are rostering flight crew up to the 900 annual legal limit and sickness is being clamped down on (but that is another thread!). The last thing that LCG wants to do is hire another 600 pilots to cover part time working.

Volmet South
22nd Apr 2005, 12:37
I wonder if Jessica would have been happy to have been represented at the tribunal by someone who was equally inexperienced and only worked 8 days a month :*

It's a bad decision.

22nd Apr 2005, 12:46
I sincerely hope that Jess winning her case does not adversly affect those of us women in our mid-twenties who are trying to get jobs.

Some of us have spent a fortune on training to get qualified, and have no intention of having sproggs.

I'm not sure Jess has done anything to ease sex descrimmination in the industry.


22nd Apr 2005, 12:47
Just watched BBC... At the end they mentioned that a second child was on the way. Cheeky ;)

22nd Apr 2005, 13:20
Anything that causes the Prince of Darkness pain and anguish is a cause celebre in my book.
I’ll take on the opposition anyday. It’s my management I can’t beat!

22nd Apr 2005, 13:33
This whole situation enrages me.

As a female pilot i can appreciate the desire to settle down and start a family, and the obvious difficulties our profession can place upon this. However we know what we are getting into when we chose this career.

Juggling this job and starting a family is something i don't plan on doing for a while but as a conscientious person i have put a lot of thought to, before starting down this path.

The government minister who was slated not too long ago for his statement that any sensible employer would not employ a woman of child bearing age, has his point proven here!

Aside from the issue of BA changing policy before/after her application for part-time the safety rules are there and she didn't meet the requirements. case closed.

She has done female pilots no favours. With the front page of BALPA log only a matter of months ago questioning/stating equality in the industry this can only serve to put more employers off.

I find it unbelievable how much time and money on both sides and in the courts has been wasted on this case for a futile victory as i hear she is now pregnant again.

If the case was on unfair maternity policies for the company then i could accept that, but a case against a short staffed company declining her request on currency and safety grounds should not have got this far.

This is just my view. I think its time feminists under any guise accepted we are not equal. Whilst we can perform to the same standards in the workplace etc there will always be the issue of pregnancy, childbirth and maternity leave which sets us apart from our male colleagues. We should be treated and paid as equals for the equal work that we do but when it comes to situations like this accept safety rulings or find a desk job.

All i can say is well done Jessica. I'm sure you've just made life a whole lot harder for the rest of us:ok: :mad:

22nd Apr 2005, 14:26
I am in my mid-thirties,
worked full time for my company since 1998,
funded all my own flying training myself before I joined,

and would like to ask permission from everybody to start trying for a baby in a year's time. (just hope that all the ILSs I've been shooting haven't zapped ALL my eggs)

I can fly a desk while pregnant, so not to be too much of a waster and I guess, after seeing my sister-in-law giving birth, I will need a little time off work afterwards to just let my torn-open arse heal.
Then ideally I would like to go 50% for say 4 years, as my other half hasn't exactly volunteered to give up his time to look after said sprog.

Now: Do you think I'm beeing unreasonable?

After reading 25 pages of this I really wonder!

22nd Apr 2005, 15:09
I don't think you're being unreasonable sparkle.

If you meet your companys experience, and other, requirements to go 50% then good on you, take it!

I think the point is if you don't meet their published requirements, you don't go and sue them to get your way!

Good luck with the baby making! The practising's the fun bit!!

22nd Apr 2005, 16:13
If, God forbid, the aircraft flown by the "part-time" pilot should prang, and pilot error was determined as a factor, where would the blame lie? With BA? With the pilot or with the industrial tribunal?

Sorry, I do think that flying is something where it is all or nothing, not part-time.

22nd Apr 2005, 16:27
Your profile does not state how much experience you have of being a commercial pilot. When you have filled in that information, you may wish to comment again?

As I am not a pilot, I keep my trap shut on such matters. I advise you to be ready to defend your opinion. :}

Further, God has nothing to do with it. Whether you believe in him or not, aircraft rise and fall by the activities of humans alone.

Max Angle
22nd Apr 2005, 16:28
Sorry, I do think that flying is something where it is all or nothing, not part-time. I have to say that's rubbish, in our company the part-timers seem to be only ones who are bright eyed, well rested and enjoying the job. I would agree with a specified minimum experience level before allowing part time but flying two weeks on two weeks off is no problem at all, you would still do a hell of lot more than most management pilots who often only do a few days a month and be a lot more alert than someone who had done 80-90 hours in the last 28 days.

Alex Whittingham
22nd Apr 2005, 16:33
The problem is, impartial, that certain large companies make up policy almost on a whim, and often with no real forethought, then try to justify it in retrospect when challenged.

The tribunal members, who you can guarantee are not stupid, have heard the best argument BA's barristers can present in considerably more detail than the misogynist ramblings on this forum and agreed with Jessica. I, for one, am pleased for her and for the whole industry. The 'don't rock the apple cart' view is a long term loser, some apple carts need to be overturned. Too many big companies need to be reminded that they can't just do what they like with their employees' lives.

sparkle, good on you!

View From The Ground
22nd Apr 2005, 16:35
No problems with part time pilots male or female....as has been mentioned many will do more flying than 'management' pilots. Of course I suspect that BA would contend that their 'management' pilots have a lot more hours behind them than this lady.

To be honest the real point is the crippling costs.....given the front end investment in training any pilot....who can blame the Company for wanting to make the most of its investment. I wonder if she could have afforded to work part time if she had had to pay for her own training??

22nd Apr 2005, 16:44
As pointed out on the other thread, some of BA's management pilots do not have the level of experience one would assume in flying hours.

22nd Apr 2005, 16:46
I take it that all part time pilots and Cabin Crew at BA accrue seniority at the same percentage rate that they work?

22nd Apr 2005, 16:55
impartial, thanks for the encouragement. Practice makes one perfect:O

Alex, thanks, even to this day I think of the great fun I had with PerfA;)


22nd Apr 2005, 17:40
I think you will find that "she" is on the BA senoirity list.

When her number comes up "she" will get a command course, irrespective of the fact that "she" will have half the experience of those around her.

Mind you, she may not even have half the experience by that time as it would seem "she" is pregnant again.

22nd Apr 2005, 17:49
She's now trying to shelve a substantial career because she doesn't like the hours she is doing - or her 280 mile round trip drive.

BA are appealing and i hope they win - i can't believe she won this case.

It is hardworking individuals who keep BA going ,and always have - not precious people who come in ,do 5 minutes work ,and then drag BA through the court and press because they suddenly don't like it.

I think she could at least waited until she had been here 5-7 years plus before taking on BA and this unjustifiable action.

Situations like this cost the company £'000s ,which in turn places more cost savings on the other hard pressed employees .... pure selfishness :mad:

22nd Apr 2005, 19:00
My twp penny worth & it refers to all such like cases, not just this partricular one.

The Staff Member concerned wishes to work only 50% of the time, fine ok.

As the Company paid out 100% of the training costs at the outset, in return they are only going to achieve 50% productivity from the Staff Member.

Solution....Company says ok, we accept the ruling of the tribunal, but in view of my comments above, the Staff Member will repay the other 50% of her training costs back to the Company.

Seems fair to me!

22nd Apr 2005, 19:21
This woman is a disgrace to our proffesion, she knew the rules before she became pregnant and that with her lack of experience she would not get 50% part time.

She has now wasted BALPA's money to for the tribunal and has now got pregnant again.

I think there is something seriously wrong with her decision making process and question wether she should be flying at all!

Don't get me wrong I'm really enjoy the lady pilots and look forward to flying with many of them, but why should this woman be given special treatment when us men have worked hard and missed our children growing up in the process.

I really object to my BALPA subs being wasted in this way!!!!!!!

rant over standing by for the incoming flack

22nd Apr 2005, 19:59

An excellent post.

There will be no incoming flack from this direction.


Valid point. A friend (F/O at the time) married a teacher from OZ who then joined him over here. She was committed to 10 years teaching there but only completed three. Before they would let he leave the country she had to pay back 70% of her training costs.


To precis your post.... "pure selfishness" seems to sum it up perfectly.

stormin norman
22nd Apr 2005, 20:04

Well said.I understand that she has a husband who is a captain at BA.What an absolute disgrace that he (poor soul on 80K+ Pa) cannot support his wife or afford child care like the rest of the world does.
Theres rumoured to be in excess of 1200 cabin crew expecting at the moment.It must be an industry in itself trying to manage that lot.
There's even a diversity manager now (plus staff i presume)

I only hope that when the new Cheif Exec comes in he sorts out
the manpower mess BA has got itself into.

The world has truly gone mad.

22nd Apr 2005, 20:14
This person is doing a huge injustice to many professional female pilots I have meet, and flown with.
Having passed BA's tricky verbal reasoning tests, did she not understand the contract she signed?
Did she not know or research the sort of rosters a pilot flies?
And, did she know how far LHR is from Dorset?
If the huge desire [which of course is totally natural] to be with her child is so great, why not ask/negotiate for a couple of years unpaid leave to be totally devoted to the bonding process?
It seems to me that she's milking the system big time.... Well you're really doing nothing for your flying sisters honey.

22nd Apr 2005, 20:24
I hope and trust that BALPA will put as much effort into fighting the case of ALL my Companys pilots who have just rejected a pay offer due to the perceived attempt of said Company to erode our terms and conditions.

Norman Stanley Fletcher
22nd Apr 2005, 21:02
As I alluded to in a previous post, this woman was always destined to win this case. As indeed was 'Stella' who successfully sued McDonalds for providing coffee that was too hot that burnt her when she spilt it down herself. Then there was the chap who stole the car from a family's driveway in the States, drove like a maniac during the subsequent police chase, before being injured after he lost control when the brakes failed. Needless to say he successfully sued the family who 'provided' the car because it was unsafe to drive!

This 'victory' is the same deal. There are new suckers born every day - and most of them seem to have worked their way into our judicial system. I was so near to rejoining BALPA and have now decided firmly against it after I discovered that they paid for the case. This woman, who is I understand pregnant again, is a rip-off merchant. There are so many quality women out there who would just love to have her job - the difference is they would actually do it. This is almost a better deal than being on the dole - you get paid a fortune for staying at home having babies.

Sadly, by way of a contrast, the brave young men and women from both the United States and the UK who have come home from Iraq with hands, feet, legs etc missing and their hopes and dreams destroyed will not be quite so fortunate. A 'grateful' nation will hand out a few platitudes and possibly even a few bucks a week. Now had they somehow managed to get pregnant, that would have course been a completely different matter - it would only have been proper to ensure that none of their rights were voilated in any way!

BALPA have managed to argue that black is white and won - well they won't be doing it in the future with my money.

22nd Apr 2005, 21:39
Does this case mean that every pilot in BA, male or female can apply for 50% working hours, or is this just for females having babies?

22nd Apr 2005, 22:54
NSF, I respectfully suggest you check the "urban legends" page before you post about McDonalds and suchlike.

The McDonalds suit was not frivolous, they supplied coffee at 170 degrees, despite at least 150 previous incidents and the lady concerned had to have extensive skin grafts.

As for the car theft story, I suspect that is an urban legend as well.

22nd Apr 2005, 23:00
This was presumably a contractual matter.(sorry folks, I've not read all the posts.) If B.A. rules state an hours restriction, before part time working is allowed'then surely no case? The fact that this involves a "lady" pilot is surely irrelevent
The fact that this case has (so far) worked to the pilot's advantage,due to the sex discrimination card,can only make life harder for the already few women who can put up with the mostly military based B******T that runs through this business.
At the moment,though,as regards contracts of employment,Civil aviation is about as equal opportunity as it gets.
How much longer will that last if the Ladies take advantage?
And why the hell should I take up the financial and rostering slack?
Dear old BALPA may well have done themselves a disservice in supporting this.

22nd Apr 2005, 23:12
Well said most of you! :ok:

Unfortunatly when I posted my views on this topic on a well known airline union's forum I was the subject of a lot of abuse by people who seem to think that "her" suing BA was in some way a good thing...

I'm looking forward to news of my application to do 50% on the grounds that my cat has had kittens.

22nd Apr 2005, 23:30
Well don't get all serious on me.
My Uncle's brother's son's neighbour once knew somone who had a friend/in law who's hamster had twins....... And Shyte, I'm worried about them, so think I'm entitled to have a year off on double pay! So there!!
Answers on a post card please.
PS. I'm considering if it's worth paying BALPA subs. [serious]
PPS. Why is this forum open to all and sundry? I thought it was a professional pilots forum not a site open to hacks from 2 bit tabloids that can't make up their own wild stories. [not so serious].

22nd Apr 2005, 23:51
As a wannabee looking to join the hallowed ranks etc. I am now less likely to join BALPA than I was yesterday.

I think it is telling that the (sadly very few) female responses there have been here have mainly been to air concerns about how much damage this case has done to their future employment prospects.

VC10 Rib22
23rd Apr 2005, 00:39

As far as I am concerned, wishing to spend time with your daughter and see her growing up is perfectably understandable. Indeed, with society today producing so many affluent, emotionless 'mothers' who are more than happy to devolve their duty of care and love to some child-minder, in order to chase the green stuff and the next promotion, I think your determination to see Beth should be applauded.

I would like my opinion above to hold true in all situations, but sadly, Jessica, with your one I cannot. This is because whenever I am paying a lot of money to fly on a BA Airbus that you are operating, I expect you to have acquired the minimum amount of experience that those people, whose field of expertise is FLIGHT SAFETY, have decided is reasonable for safe operation. It is no different to BA insisting their F.O.s gain a large number of take-off and landings via the Short-Haul fleet prior to being accepted onto Long-Haul. When you were at Oxford, how many times were you told "YOU CAN'T BUY EXPERIENCE" ? - that is the crux of the matter.

Airlines have never wanted female pilots, purely because of the inevitability of childbirth and its associated costs, and created polices deliberately to discourage females choosing flying as a career. Thankfully discrimination laws are slowly but surely allowing women to have a career in the cockpit and raise children too, and rightly so. However, if women seek equality in the cockpit then they must accept equality in the cockpit - i.e. whatever the criteria for part-time working for a man, the same is to be accepted by a woman, no more, no less. I do feel sorry for your situation. Like most on this forum, I do not know the ins and outs of your case, only yourself and BA do, but if BA have raised the minimum hours after you applied, as much as this infuriated you, perhaps you should have personally decided to accept their ruling, knowing that whilst it may mean spending less time with Beth, it is better than being in a position where your captain is incapacitated and your lack of experience is proving to be your last regret. Of course, BA should have made this clear and unequivocal, it reflects very badly on them if they didn't.

One good thing to come out of all this exposure is that you have really brought the dilemma of female pilots and family firmly to the fore, where it can now be properly debated and rules and regulations drawn up. The effect of which will be that females will be informed way before entering flying of the practicalities and timescales involved and can, therefore, plan as best they can to ensure minimum encroachment on their private life. There can't be that many permutations possible, here are some obvious ones and are based on the assumption that a career break is a guaranteed right:

1. Younger female wants a baby, but doesn't have the required number of hours to go part-time......she either accepts the situation, as she was aware of it well in advance, or takes a career break (how this affects seniority is for others more informed than me to decide).

2. Older female wants a baby (time not on her side), but doesn't have the required number of hours to go part-time.......she takes a risk on delaying or takes a career break.

3. Female pilot not having the required hours becomes pregnant.......a career break is her only choice.

I'm sure there are other permutations which the airlines will have to cater for.

I imagine there can't be a greater stressor than wanting a family and being told you can't. I hope I haven't come across as an Orwellian activist, because I am a big believer in equal rights and family values, but by choosing to become a professional pilot you are expected to put the safety of your passengers before all other factors.

In the long run I have no doubt that raising this action will aid women, for they will be more informed and able to plan (as best they can), but I can't help feeling that, in the short run, you have done a great disservice to female wannabees, as you have given the cost-conscious airlines more reason not to take on your kind, and that you may not be very popular among your peers, which is irony personified. For sure, there will be much drinking to your health by the male wannabee community, I know I'm going to. :D

This was all about safety, not discrimination.

Congratulations on your good news! I'm sure that with Beth and her sibling running about soon, you'll realise flying an Airbus can't compare with raising a family, neither in stress or pleasure. With your determination for this to happen I'm sure you'll be a wonderful mother to both of them.

VC10 Rib22

23rd Apr 2005, 00:51
Cobblers. A rip off, just means that our female contemporaries will find it harder to gain employment anywhere reasonable. It's sooo easy to fail people on application early in the process with no possible recourse to 'discrimination' legislation. Boo to the rip off girl I say.

23rd Apr 2005, 06:19
The hour vs safety issue is a complete red herring. Even as a part time First Officer with BA Jessica will probably fly more hours and sectors than a contemporary flying a B757 with DHL. Most of us take holidays and do not fly for a week or two. Half an hour in the books going through recall drills and profiles is enough to refresh your mind the night before flying.

Of all professions airline flying is the easiest one in which to accommodate part time working. Southwest have an arrangement, I believe, where you can structure the amount of work and pay according to personal requirements.

The issue we really should be worried about is not pilots who return to work feeling rested after a break but those who are worked to the maximum legal limit.

The BA A320 fleet at Heathrow is well known for being a tough call. Maximum possible flying hours, roster changes, long duty days, aircraft swaps, congested airspace, the Heathrow hassle factor and a demanding commute to work.

It's a highly stressful job. But companies like BA will always say that pilots work within the limits set by the CAA and, therefore, their working practices are safe.

They cannot now claim that the CAA's rules on currency are unsafe.

The real, and very well hidden, safety issue is cumulative pilot fatigue. I bet that is an issue Captain Douglas won't address.

23rd Apr 2005, 07:00
VC10Rib22 in his post has expressed the situation succintly and without any rancour.

When my wife saw the news item on the TV News she was extremely exasperated at yet another fellow female getting her priorities wrong. Surely, when she married, she should have realised that marriedl life usually produced a child either by design or accident.
Where are your priorities lady? Your child (children) will grow up to be better people if you provide them with love and attention when they need it. What next? It is a smokscreen to claim "discrimination" and any other fatuous reason. Will your husband be requesting time off as well so that he can be with the children when you are away earning yet more money.
This decision by the Court has provoked a lot more discussion than is appearing in these columns - not a lot of it in your favour Jessica.

23rd Apr 2005, 07:04
More fool BA for employing any woman of child bearing age.The costs must be crippling and now this freeloader is off again for god knows how long.

23rd Apr 2005, 08:07
There appear to be quite a few neanderthals alive and well on this site....Is it unreasonable for a working mother to want to be continue in a job as well as raise children? Also, statements that women wont be recruited by big companies is also a fallacy. Large companies have massive Personnel/People/Human Resources departments stuffed with the politically correct do gooders that love to populate their companies with minorities/women. Small businesses probably will file the next female application in the circular file, but big companies can't get away with doing that.
Also, management pilots , some of whom are spectacularly good (and some are spectacularly bad) are exposed to the operation when not flying, unlike a part timer who probably has other things on their mind when they drive to work. Rewriting manuals and the other stuff that they fill their busy 1030-1530 days refreshes the pilot skills that we all use. Lets face it, nowadays, actual hands on flying is a small part of the job, and it is the SOP side of things and the feeling of being thrown in the deep end that the 50% part timer will struggle with.
In short , I believe this case has done the part timers case the world of good, especially with the new legislation coming into effect next year, where BA anticipate loads of 50 something pilots will want the opportunity to wind down for the last few yrs of their extended career. Hopefully, this will make it easier for them to achieve this.
We all received a letter from POD the other day saying how BA is going to struggle more than their competitors with the impending age legislation because other companies already retire their pilots later, or have a different way of paying their pilots.IMHO, absolute rubbish. Compared with the AF, IB, LH, US carriers we have been underpaid for years, who, with the exception of the Yanks, seem to be coping well with paying their pilots these "extra costs". What POD means, I suspect, is with the bloated cost base that is BA, they will find it difficult to find the extra money. If it forces BA mgmt to cut out the excesses that we see in other departments,in order to comply with its legal obligations, then perhaps JH's ruling may do us all a big favour in the long run. ( Even though I think she is taking the piss)

23rd Apr 2005, 08:47
Forget not being able to find/afford a nanny.

Look at the whole issue from a different angle fro a moment.
When I went through Hamble (in the 60's) we were all male and apart from the odd medical problem gave BOAC/BEA/BA thirty five years service. A reasonable return on the training costs I would suggest.

Now there is the option if you are not successful in getting sponsorship with BA to pay for your own training. The figure would seem to be in the region of £80.000., without a guarantee of a job at the end.

That would not seem to be the end of the matter even if you succeed in finding a job there is most certainly the type rating to be paid for (B737 roughly £15000)

I wonder if Jessica would have been asking for 75%, let alone 50% working if she had that sort of debt to clear. Mind you she is married to a Captain, the odd £80,000 would help.

Perhaps BA will just ask future applicants to pay for their own training. Perhaps the like of Jessica will not make it through the first interview in future.

23rd Apr 2005, 08:54
Being a mother is a career in itself - the hours are long, the pay is lousy, there's hardly any vacation time and the job is high-pressure and demanding. Although I understand that the perks can be pretty good too.

My point is that, while I have a demanding career of my own in a job I thoroughly enjoy, there are other jobs - astronaut, pilot, air traffic controller - which I'd also love to do.

But there's no way I could commit to two such jobs at the same time. Like anyone, I have to make a choice. If I want to be an astronaut, it would be ridiculous of me to believe I could remain committed to my current job. The two are simply incompatible owing to the resources and effort that each requires. Therefore I have to stop kidding myself and make a choice - one or the other - and live with my decision.

People seem to think that parenthood is somehow "different" and exempt from this rule. It's not - and all the saccharine PR comments :yuk: about how cute your daughter is, Ms Starmer, and how much she loves her mummy don't change a damn thing.

Parenthood is, in reality, just another form of high-pressure career - and not something which people ought to have some God-given right to pursue without sacrifice.

Any woman wanting to follow a demanding career has my full backing. But you have no 'right' to be both parent and pilot any more than I have a 'right' to be both astronaut and air traffic controller.

Like a lot of choices in life it comes down to deciding what you want more, and living with the fact that you can't have it all. :mad:

23rd Apr 2005, 09:40
If BALPA intend to defend this con-artist at the appeal, then I for one will cancel my subscription.

Even BALPA seems to have been infiltrated by female practitioners of idiotic political correctness.


23rd Apr 2005, 09:47
I couldn't agree more with Konkordski on this subject.
Life is all about choices, and why do so many people believe it's their "right" to make demands like this from their employer. I myself brought up 2 children and in doing so made the conscious decision to leave my job with an airline. It was my choice; I didn't have to start a family and nor did Ms Starmer.
And personally I would be very concerned flying with any pilot with such little experience who was only working 50% of their time.

23rd Apr 2005, 09:50
When said female applied for the BA job and during the selection and acceptance stages, she was, without any doubt, informed that the terms included full time employment. At no time would part time working be stated to be a right.

After securing the position with BA, having acknowledged the terms of employment, she then demands a change to those conditions!

Even more unbelievable is that judgement falls in her favour!

The ruling is ridiculous.

Good job for her she doesn't work for some of the organisations I've been involved with........her next simulator ride could signal the end of her employment.

Big Hilly
23rd Apr 2005, 10:28
Personally, I am delighted with the outcome. As many know, I have supported this case from the start and regardless of the specifics of the case it is not, as some have put it, “another nail in the coffin for pilots” infact, quite the contrary! It is more than one pilot who had the courage of her convictions to stand up to an airline’s management; it sends out a clear and positive signal to the world at large that the days of pilots being pushed around and treated like second-class citizens are drawing to a close.

We have supported the airlines through ‘difficult times’ through job cuts, salary freezes, crazy rosters etc etc but now that the ‘difficult times’ are coming to an end and profits & passenger numbers are once again up, it’s time for the airlines to start paying us back for our loyalty and hard work. . . .

Jess, many, many congrats!


23rd Apr 2005, 11:07
......it sends out a clear and positive signal to the world at large that the days of pilots being pushed around and treated like second-class citizens are drawing to a close.
No, it sends out a clear and positive signal to British Airways. BA, management and employees alike, still acts like the Nationalised Industry it used to be.

The world at large beyond British Airways.......the real world at large in other words, is still as it always was.

Except that the real world at large is now, from my experiences, more wary of employing females pilots and, unlike BA, is very likely to react adversely.

Calling BA "the world at large".......sheesh! :rolleyes:

23rd Apr 2005, 11:32
The the end of the day, she signed the contract with BA which states at the top "Full time". I don't see why she should now be able to rewrite it just because it suits her.

Big Hilly
23rd Apr 2005, 11:36
Calling BA "the world at large".......sheesh! Well, it's a leader article in The Times today (admitedly not a 'pro' article but it's there nonetheless) and indeed a number of other national newspapers, which i suspect may even be read by one or two people who aren't B.A. employees. . . . :p


23rd Apr 2005, 16:58
hear hear

of course she should have won the case, employment legislation applies to employees whatever their vocation and whatever the cost of training.

should we be prepared to forego our larger salaries because we cost more to employ than cleaners?

of course not, so what is the relevance of training costs?

would it have been any different if she had paid for her own training as is de rigeur now with the locos? I doubt it, there would still be spurious claptrap spouted about experience levels and motivation.

I wish all employers were as loyal to us and our profession as we seem to be to this industry if some of the above postings are for real!

Lou Scannon
23rd Apr 2005, 17:54
Ms Starmer undoubtedly owes the opportunity to work for BA to being able to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, often in the face of considerable predjudice and male chauvinism.

I wonder if any young girls who hope to be pilots in the future will be wanting to stand on her shoulders?

23rd Apr 2005, 18:04
Yarpy, your post on the previous page to this one has caused me such violent inner machinations that I have had to withdraw to my en-suite for an evacuation.

23rd Apr 2005, 19:01
I agree totally with & your comment, that if BALPA continue to support this case at any appeal, you will cancel your subscription.

Can I suggest, that every other BALPA member takes the same course of action & cancels their subscription as well.

The great pity to my mind about this particular case, is that it demeans & reduces the integrity, of all the other highly professional & dedicated female pilots in the industry, who we all know have worked damm hard to get where they are to day.

23rd Apr 2005, 20:13
Big Hilly
it’s time for the airlines to start paying us back for our loyalty and hard work. . . .

Loyalty and hard work, under BA's rules, comes circa 2000 hours. Then you can request 50%.

My Grandfather (DFC, DFM, Queens Commendation) who flew BOAC post WW2 until retirement would be turning in his grave.


Norman Stanley Fletcher
23rd Apr 2005, 20:18
Sunfish - These are not urban legends 'as you suspect'. These are hard fact. 'Stella's' case in McDonalds was utterly frivolous and a complete rip-off. She did indeed suffer extensive burns - as would anyone being so foolish. Coffee is meant to be served piping hot and has been for generations. She knew this and failed to take adequate precautions. If you put your head in your boiling kettle this evening then you too will suffer extensive burns. There again you could be sensible and put it in a mug with some milk and not pour it down yourself - that is not the responsibility of the kettle provider but of you the user.

Like anyone who has an awareness of what is happening around them I could go on to speak against countless (and utterly true) ludicrous judgements of recent years including the ones I have highlighted, but it would take us off the thread. They may well be 'urban legends' to you but to the people who are the victims of what is essentially fraudulent behaviour they can have very serious consequences.

Similarly, and returning to the thread, this BA pilot, with the assistance of BALPA, has made a mockery of justice. Any sensible and right-thinking person can see this for what it is. There will always be those who will argue black is white and there will be no shortage of buffoons who are taken in by it. I for one am not taken in by this for a moment and have no hesitation in calling it for what it is.

23rd Apr 2005, 20:22
A fair comparison would be with doctors, who first have to gain on-the-job experience as housemen/registrars (2nd officers) before eventually reaping the rich rewards of a consultancy (1st officers). Working for only half the normal hours, this woman could become dangerously 'out of touch' both practically and theoretically. In this particular case, the employer is right.

23rd Apr 2005, 21:24
I've never read such a load of reactionary, sexist cobblers in all my life. Mosrt of the posters in the naysayer camp should be ashamed of themselves and the language they have used. Pompous or what!

Try substituting the words "black" or "gay" for 'female' and then re-read some of these posts - the tone and language is thoroughly offensive to women, and I say this as a childless, middle aged bloke!

What century do you lot think you are living in? Flying is a job, not a monastic creed, and in this century women have an absolute right to have a career and children at the time it best suits them so to do - get used to it.

I'll make a sweeping generalisation here to rival Mr Fletchedrs' astonishing arrogance about " right thinking people". A fair and decent society is one in which the basic right of a woman to have her children as and when she chooses to should be taken for granted.

Big Hilly
23rd Apr 2005, 21:31

I too have done my bit for Queen and Country and seem to recall being awarded the odd bit of ironmongery on occasions to boot. . . :O However, I'm pleased to report that we've all come a long way since the bad ol' days of BOAC ever since we joined the rest of the civilized world in the 21st century, . . .


23rd Apr 2005, 21:31
Oh, and another thing - cancel your subscriptions to BALPA would you? Thats going to achieve a huge amount for the profession- NOT!

I'd go so far, having read what I judge to be the most shameful, nasty thread in all I've read on PPRUNE, to venture that BALPA would be better off without the reactionary, nasty, sexist, judgemental bigotry that I've seen here in its midst. Go ahead, cancel your subscriptions!

Training Risky
23rd Apr 2005, 21:46
women have an absolute right to have a career and children at the time it best suits them so to do - get used to it.

I'd go so far, having read what I judge to be the most shameful, nasty thread in all I've read on PPRUNE

I'd say that a few rabid posters on this thread are too wrapped around the axle of wimmins' rights to see that this is the thin end of the PC wedge.

I am in the military (on a ground tour) with a 7-month old son, who is looked after by the wife while she stays at home and intends to return to work when the boy is settled in school.

Where's my tribunal? Where's my union? Where are my rights to work part-time?

Too many loony liberals here are too focused on the 'rights' of minorities when they should pay more attention to the responsibilities shouldered by the many.

PS: I'd say the point that BA make about a lack of experience pre 2000 hrs is valid.

23rd Apr 2005, 22:10
What century do you lot think you are living in? Flying is a job, not a monastic creed, and in this century women have an absolute right to have a career and children at the time it best suits them so to do - get used to it

As a young female recently qualified fATPL cases like this just make me think Im one step further away from being offered a position. Especially since I am of a 'child-bearing' sort of age!!

Of course everyone has a right to a career and a family.
They shouldn't expect the conditions of their employment be altered to suit them.


Capt Pit Bull
23rd Apr 2005, 23:36
Of course everyone has a right to a career and a family. They shouldn't expect the conditions of their employment be altered to suit them.

Absolutely. Because the conditions ought to be suitable in the first place!

In a more general sense, I think a lot of jealousy from people that do not have kids. For those that have taken the decision not to have any children, just bear in mind that when you retire, the taxation to keep the infrastructure of society going will be paid for by the children of your child bearing colleauges.

People, whether you are a biological parent or not, we all have a responsibility to share the burden of child care, unless you are willing to be euthanised on your retirement date. (which lets face it BA would love!)


24th Apr 2005, 02:03
It is not those posters so absolutely correct in their disgust at this womans actions that bother me, no it's the little 'l' politically correct weenies that concern me more. You are the reason that the whole world is turning into a Nanny place. No one is saying that a female cannot have both a job/career and children if she so desires. The point is she should not expect any preferential treatment, which disadvantages her fellow workers both male and female, to achieve this worthy goal. I did re-read the posts and I cannot see any link between our various comments against this womans actions and gays, people not white, Jews, left handed people or people who drive Hyundais. PC gone mad.

24th Apr 2005, 02:59
I suggest that all pilots be it men or woman( within BA ) who would like to go part-time file a pettition with the applicable courts on grounds of equal rights. Take it to the European courts and see what the outcome is.

by the way what would the outcome be at Ryanair...? :D

Pointer :E

24th Apr 2005, 05:21
I used to work for a UK short haul jet airline that allowed part time working. A lady Training Captain had a baby and returned to work on a fifty per cent roster.

Amongst my professional pilot colleagues I never heard one sour grape comment whatsoever. The only issue mentioned was that, pro rata, the company was getting more than their pound of flesh in flying hours.

I cannot believe that all the negative comment here on Pprune actually come from UK airline pilots. They just don't ring true.

24th Apr 2005, 06:35
I have no problem with equality of opportunity, irrespective of gender.

I do, however, have a significant problem with any dilution of experience levels that are set to ensure a minimum level of competence.

Years ago, now aging jocks like me were exhorted by Grampaw Pettibone, the astringent, acidulous curmudgeon, vaunted foe of the careless and mindless, to get a grip on basics. For Gramps, silence was no virtue and repetition no vice. Many of us are still breathing today because of the sharp tongue of the old coot with the whiskers.

Unlike some areas of the bureaucracy, the aviation industry isn't a social laboratory. These days, when I pay my hard earned spondulicks for commercial transportation, I expect the intrepid drivers’ airframe on the flight deck to possess the necessary experience and expertise to be able to deal competently with any in flight problems that may arise - irrespective of gender.

Such experience and expertise requires minimum time requirements. And if that means making decisions about about careers and family, then as Gramps would have said" "Great balls of fire," "Great horned toadies" and "Jehosaphat" ..."The world's best safety device is situated slightly above and between the ears--use it."

24th Apr 2005, 07:43
Well done, BALPA - I will be more than happy to renew my membership when the time comes.

Horace Batchelor
24th Apr 2005, 07:56
<<Well done, BALPA - I will be more than happy to renew my membership when the time comes.>>

And so am I.

24th Apr 2005, 08:06
Having read a lot of these posts, I think this woman (and her husband) are having a laugh! If she wants to spend more "quality" time with her daughter, then do so, but not at the employers expense.

She is now pregnant, when will she ever get to the 2000 hours threshold? Or was that never her intention?

24th Apr 2005, 08:45
Why was this case argued on sex discrimination grounds? The rules on 50% working applied by BA are, I presume, applicable to both male and female pilots. To argue that this rule affects women more as they are mothers is, in effect, sexist as it implies that ONLY mothers can care for their children. Argue the case at an industrial tribunal on contractual grounds by all means but playing the sex discrimination card is only going to lead to all the negative comments that we have seen over 27 pages of this thread.

Question: Why doesn't husband go to 50% working and bring up the offspring allowing wife to build up the 2000 hours experience? Alternately, why don't they both do 75% working and share the task equally?

24th Apr 2005, 08:46
Having read a lot of these posts, I think this woman (and her husband) are having a laugh! If she wants to spend more "quality" time with her daughter, then do so, but not at the employers expense. And the other FO's on the fleet who are having to pick up the slack. No wonder pilots are working their arses off in BA.

BALIX As I understand it...I believe the father is on a 75% contract? He could have gone to 50% as he has the minimum hours and experience.

24th Apr 2005, 09:11
I have watched the progress of this case with mixed feelings,

As has been said previously child care does not only apply to mothers. My wife died suddenly in 1994 when I had two sons aged 8 and 15 years and, at the time, I was flying charter for TEA. I attempted to negotiate a part time working arrangement with the company for a period of two years or so. This was flatly refused on the grounds that it would set a precedent for others who might want to do the same.

My decision was to leave the company as I regarded child care as more important. Perhaps like this lady I should have taken legal action. I am now paying the price since it is now improving almost impossible to get back into any form of flying job.

The point I am making is that child care is not solely the prerogative of mothers.

24th Apr 2005, 09:43
This lady has set back the female section of the aviation industry by many years.
I totally agree with genuine cases being allowed part time working but c'mon this gal is takin the p***.
At least the do gooders and the PC guys/gals will support her actions,
Good luck!:mad: :mad:

24th Apr 2005, 09:44
I read in the Telegraph yesterday how highly experienced this lady actually was - a thousand hours when she asked for 50% working, oh yes very experienced indeed. On top of that her husband/partner is a BA pilot - so laughing all the way to the bank then. On top of all that she is expecting a second child so that will prevent her working for a while - seems to me that some people just want it ALL.

RANT over - thanks BALPA for using my fees on this nonsense.

24th Apr 2005, 10:11
I think this ruling could be both a blessing and a hindrance:

If it does set a precedent for pilots working 50% then it is arguable it may create more vacancies as the industry opens up to more part-time workers. This is good news for wannabe pilots, though of course the vacancies created would only be part-time ones.

I sympathise with the lady in question, but I do feel uncomfortable with it too - she is 26 years old and would have had the opportunity that so many thousands of trained, skilled but unemployed pilots have so desperately sought. I think she should recognise the privelidged position she was in and recognise that although equal rights are fundamental in our society, aviation is a career that isn't always compatible with a stable family routine - she knew that when she took the job, surely? Most people on here would give an arm and a leg to have been in her position, so to now demand she can't work more than 50% of her hours is a bit like biting the hand that feeds you, if that makes sense. She should be thankful for the opportunity she had been given.

Finally, I confess that I don't know much about the inner workings of Balpa, but like most professional bodies I guess they owe their duty to airlines pilots actively operating - i.e. not wannabes or aspiring pilots. So, their main concern is actively working pilots, with the industry as a whole coming second - which is why they probably took such a strong line of support for this worker's case.

24th Apr 2005, 10:25
Under the contract of employment that she signed was she entitled to go to 50% working?

Did BA introduce the 2000 hr rule AFTER she applied to go to 50%?

24th Apr 2005, 10:26
And quickly, I'd like to respond to 'Shortfinalfred' who a few pages back suggests that people's disappointment at this decision amounts to chauvenism - you suggest that we replace the word 'woman' with 'black' or 'gay' to highlight your point.

Such comparisons are quite useless - because the point surely is that whether you are black/white/gay/straight you can still do the job to the same ability, and have no physical reason to perform differently. Here, there is a fundamental difference between men and women, that there isn't between gay and straight people, or black/white. It's not as if homosexual pilots have to take 9 months off because they are 'gay', or white people have to take 9 months off because they are white.

I'm a law student, and back in the 90s there were quite a few cases that spawned the whole 'gender equality' debate, starting with an aviation case involving Sabena airlines. The crux of the matter is that you can't treat men and women differently unless justified on objective grounds (ie. if they were doing different jobs!). The point I think in the BA cases we're discussing is that the gender equality argument has been followed through to an unnatural conclusion - what distinguished the earlier gender discrimination cases was that men and women were getting paid different amounts for doing the same job (which is, of course, bang out of order), and that clearly they had no control over their gender. HERE, the point is that this women DID have control over whether she had a kid(s) or not - she made that choice, and she ought to respect the fact that kids aren't compatible with such a disruptive career. In other words, this isn't a question of black/white, gay/straight, man/woman - where there is no discretion involved - it's a question of kids/no kids, and I suggest therefore that the gender issue is largely a red herring, although clearly only women actually give birth to kids (though men also raise them).

fmgc: I don\'t know, but I\'m sure someone else does. However, if she was entitled to go 50% then I guess there wouldn\'t have been such a controversial hearing, as she would have been entitled to it as of right. BA offered her 75%, so I guess she was on full hours.

24th Apr 2005, 10:48

I would like to add my humble comments to those made by noflare.

Well done Mrs Starmer!

You've done more damage to the cause of lady pilots than can be imagined by your self-centred egotistical attitude to your employer by proceeding with this case. Hubbie's career may well be affected.

What have you actually achieved? A very hollow victory. You had a very reasonable offer from your employer. You knew the rules when you joined. You chose to live out in the sticks and commute to work so that you could bring your kids up in a decent location. I commend you for that but it was your choice, not the company's that resulted in a 200+ miles journey to work in your own time.

When you're a doting grandma with a grand child on your knee you can look back and reflect what might have been had you left well alone.

Lady, this was definately NOT your finest hour.


24th Apr 2005, 11:01
MaximumPete.....and others

There is significant confusion and possibly deliberate mis-information here.

Can somebody in the know (and I mean really in the know, rather than the masses who just think they know everything!) confirm whether or not the rules were changed AFTER she applied for part-time work.

If, as I suspect, that is the case then it clearly explains why the tribunal have ruled in her favour or perhaps more to the point - AGAINST BA!!

An employer cannot be alowed to get away with such a practice. We'd all be ceremoniously screwed if that were the case!

24th Apr 2005, 11:07

A good point but alas there will be no winners in this case, only losers.

I'm not counting the lawyers who got well paid for a professional job.


24th Apr 2005, 11:50


What are the facts?

24th Apr 2005, 11:52
As a self improver, I spent thousands and thousands of pounds before getting my "lucky break " and getting my first Airline job!!!
I sweated over many many examinations to reach that goal!!!
I gave up many many things to reach my dream!!!
I have had to live all over the country in an effort to achieve the job I wanted!!!

I wasn't ever lucky enough to get a look in at British Airways

This person was!!!

And how much did she want it???

26 years old - two years service - and she's had enough!

The rest is history!!!

24th Apr 2005, 11:55
The emotional issues here of her being privileged, lucky to have such a good job, many wannabees would chew their own arm off etc are completely irrelevant.

It is a legal issue.

24th Apr 2005, 12:13
According to the Balpa website:

"In addition the Tribunal did not find that BA had produced any compelling evidence that there was a threat to safety by granting part time working, and noted that the BA rule on “hours needed before consideration of part time working” had been introduced after Jessica had submitted her claim."

That said, it doesn't indicate whether the rules wer *changed* or whether this was an additional requirement imposed by BA on top of her contract. In other words, when she applied, could BA still have refused her on the reasons they gave (e.g. safety etc) even though this hours rule wasn't yet in operation?

24th Apr 2005, 12:45
It would appear that the hours worked before part-time work could be considered had not been a previous issue, but only came to light as a result of this case.

BA saw there was a problem and changed their rules.

The timing may not have been brilliant but there you go.


Little Blue
24th Apr 2005, 15:07
Nothing to do with the fact that she is "Female", is it MP?

Training Risky
24th Apr 2005, 16:22
If you haven't noticed yet, then YES!... this case is all about the fact that she is 'female'.:mad:

24th Apr 2005, 17:18
Does it matter whether the rules were changed before or after. If they were changed after it was because BA had never had to deal with this situation before. They paid tens of thousands for her training and she has given nothing back - I can't believe that she will ever go back to working more than 50%. Why would she with a husband earning so much as well as herself.

You only have to scroll back through this post to see how many people think Jessica has done no end of damage to other female pilots. I am one of them and I am disgusted that she has won. Surely moving closer to Heathrow would have been the equivalent of going 50%. The only words that spring to mind are 'cake' and 'eat it'.

I don't know where this will leave us as a group but it definitely hasn't helped. I've worked hard to get where I am, I love my job and yes, one day I would like kids but only after I've put my time and energy into my career and some commitment back into the company that took a gamble on me.

24th Apr 2005, 18:04
;) Oh come on now. Flying has always been a mans' game. It always will be. Young Jessica has simply been the Trojan Horse which proved the point. In this, of course, she was well aided by the lackeys at BALPA, servants of the concept of political correctness. An excellent result all round really. Goebbels would have been immensely proud of it. It's put feminine aviation back years. Female aspirants will always be looked upon with quite justifiable suspicion from now on.
What next? Will tribunals afford the same degree of luxury to a homosexual pilot who, with his husband, has adopted a child.
Will BALPA support such a claim in the future? It could surely hardly refuse to! Surely!
Must dash. Must review the new Flashman book just out. He would have known what to do, by the living jingo!

stella arrival
24th Apr 2005, 18:35
Well, my two pennorth as follows....
I think it is a bloody disgrace, BALPA should be ashamed of themselves for backing such a giant leap backwards for female pilots. I will be cancelling my BALPA membership immediately. Any chief pilot considering hiring a female pilot now will clearly be having very serious second thoughts about the idea - a crying shame when so many employers are already in the dark ages when it comes to hiring women and there are so many emminently qualified women pilots struggling to find work. I hope that Jessica is proud of what she has done for her beloved industry by her selfish stupidity.
There, said it. Quite restrained for me, actually.

24th Apr 2005, 18:54
Having been a supervisor in another profession but not dissimilar in other respects to aviation, I have been down the "Jessica" road several times. When they first become pregnant their rate of sickness increases because of the fundamental changes their body is undertaking. They then go on to maternity leave. When they are due to return to work, they put in an appearance for a few days and then go off sick with stress caused by trying to work and tend the new born child.

This process can be repeated one or more times depending on the size of the famly they choose.

In the mean time you are short staffed as they cannot be replaced and their work has to be shared out amongst the remaining staff.

If you have two or more similar females working for you the job does not get done.

24th Apr 2005, 19:05
I have to say that yours is probably the most offensive post that I have ever read on PPRuNe.
Whatever the specifics of this particular case, your comments are bang out of order and have no place in modern-day aviation let alone on a public forum like this. If you want to air your misogynistic views then I strongly suggest that you should consider doing so in private in the future.



24th Apr 2005, 19:33
Greatorex, Sorry you don't agree but you are fortunate in that aviation is one of the few industries in which hours are limited by law. Try having a few words with doctors, etc who have to work lengthy hours to make up for absences.

Also try having a few words with the small businessman who finds trying to comply with employment laws forces him into bankruptcy. You might find my post offensive to yourself but it is simple statement of the facts out there.

24th Apr 2005, 19:45
Also try having a few words with the small businessman who finds trying to comply with employment laws forces him into bankruptcy

Hear hear. There are too many people hiding behind ever demanding employment law (demanding on the employers part). Enough has been said on this particular subject to say any more.

24th Apr 2005, 20:30
your comments are bang out of order and have no place in modern aviation let alone on a public forum like this

Do we or do we not live in a liberal democracy? If yes, sammypilot's comments are not "bang out of order". He is entitled to his view and to post it.

24th Apr 2005, 21:33
Having read the views - you are all frankly a load of old farts.

Bring on the younger generation as I can't wait for you lot to retire.

The world moves on...views rarely change with age however, so I can't expect many of you to be progressive with this modern newfangled stuff such as women working.

24th Apr 2005, 22:21
so I can't expect many of you to be progressive with this modern newfangled stuff such as women working.

I think that's the whole point, numbnuts. She hasn't actually done very much work. She's been trained by BA to be a pilot, and spent the greater part of her time with that company making/having/looking after babies. She's done 1,000 hrs in 4 years, when most of her contempories will have been pushing 3,000. You call that work do you? Sounds more like a hobby to me!

Having done all that, she's now taken her employer (and benefactor) to court. Amongst other things it can apparently be slightly disruptive, being an airline pilot. No ****! It's a topsy-turvy world we live in.

Norman Stanley Fletcher
25th Apr 2005, 00:22
Ah - greatorex

It is always the way - someone disagrees with the pc-brigade and they are the most shameful, wicked, women-hating, criminal, blah, blah, etc person to have surfaced in years and should not be allowed to contribue on this or any other forum ever, ever again. And that is the essence of the pc world - 'WE are correct, WE define the moral rules, WE say who may be heard and WE say who may not.'

WRONG!! If you are offended by sammy's comments it is you who needs to clear off. And, by the way, if that is the most offensive thing you have ever read on PPRUNE then you have not been looking at it very long! Sammy is entitled to his views and you to yours. This is a place for honest debate and if sammy has a point to make then let it be heard. If you can produce a cogent and rational argument to counter his views then let us hear it. Or shall we just ban him to save you the bother?

25th Apr 2005, 06:51
Maybe she thought BA stood for "Baby Airlines" or "Benefit Airlines"!

How long is maternity leave anyhow? In normal desk jobs you would go off around 8 months into pregnancy, yes? But how is she going to "squeeze" into the cockpit in such a condition? Or does "Baby Airways" have special concessions for these situations?

It really is a matter of choice. What does she really want? To be a pilot or to be a mother? It really is that simple.

One thing that really puzzles me: How does she only have 1100 hours flight time after 4 years?


25th Apr 2005, 08:21
SAMMYPILOT - you are spot on. I have experienced exactly the scenario you describe on more than one occassion.

On the M/F equality issue - what bullsh*t it is. Man and woman are not equal. Has anyone watched womans rugby? Nuff said ;)

25th Apr 2005, 08:32
Having been a pilot and and employer, I can attest to both the truth of cockpit competencies based on minimum standards; and the engagement of people who will adversely affect my bottom line.

There’s no compromise on either – in the case of the former where my butt is on the line; and in the case of the latter where my house is forfeit to the bank!

feet dry
25th Apr 2005, 08:55

In those two short sentences you have summed up the future consequence of this decision. Bravo

Tartan Giant
25th Apr 2005, 09:32
This decision in favour of J was PATHETIC.

I join the ranks of like-minded people such as Stella Arrival, Sammypilot, and NSF in their views, and distance myself from people like greatorex who twist the argument with inappropriate comment about misogynistic views. It is nothing to do with that.

In all walks of life/business these days there is a cost/benefit to be forged out - what is the sense in having a pilot who has only flown 1,000 hrs in four years? I hurt for BA trying to make a profit with employees like J.

The PC clowns who are surfacing and imposing their 'will' want trod back into the earth, and allow the world to function properly and with purpose.


25th Apr 2005, 09:49
Like I posted previously, however, there is some good to come out of this for qualified pilots who are awaiting work - if this decision sets a precedent for people to work part-time hours on a widespread basis, it will surely create more part-time vacancies across the board - I.E, it takes two pilots on 50% hours to do the job of one pilot on 100%. Although it does only create part-time work, it may, one suggests, create more jobs.

25th Apr 2005, 09:55
Does anyone have a link to the actual decision of the Tribunal?

25th Apr 2005, 09:57
Although it does only create part-time work, it may, one suggests, create more jobs.

At what cost?

25th Apr 2005, 10:08
Presumably, at the risk of cynicism from employers against women. Quite ironic.

Sorry for so many posts, this is from the Balpa website:

Jessica Starmer, the young woman pilot working for British Airways who was denied 50 per cent part time working by the airline has won her Employment Tribunal claim.

Jessica, 26, needs to work 50 per cent part time so that she can look after her one year old daughter Beth. Jessica was supported by her union, the British

Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA).

BALPA General Secretary Jim McAuslan said: ‘We welcome the Tribunal’s decision and hope that it will encourage more airlines to introduce better part time and flexible working arrangements for all flight crew whether they are a young mum or dad, someone who is caring for aged parents or someone who needs flexible retirement arrangements.

‘British Airways should show the same flexibility in employment practices as they demand of their pilots. The pilot labour market is tightening and UK aviation needs to use the skills of all its pilots.’

Jessica declared: ‘I am delighted with this result. I am delighted that I will now be able to spend more time with my beautiful daughter Beth, and will be able to balance caring for her with the responsibilities of my job.

‘I believe my request for flexible working was reasonable, justified and in accordance with the dual responsibilities I hold as a worker and a parent. All that I wanted was to make sure that my daughter was cared for properly, while continuing in a career into which both my employer and I have invested lots of time and money.’

African Drunk
25th Apr 2005, 10:38
I believe my request for flexible working was reasonable, justified and in accordance with the dual responsibilities I hold as a worker and a parent. All that I wanted was to make sure that my daughter was cared for properly, while continuing in a career into which both my employer and I have invested lots of time and money.’

Money? I though she was a cadet?

The Pink Panther
25th Apr 2005, 11:22
She was a cadet, which menas BA have paid for her to get to where she is . . .

Dare I ask how many pilots (male and female) put their plans for a familiy on hold when in her position?

25th Apr 2005, 12:47

so I can't expect many of you to be progressive with this modern newfangled stuff such as women working.

Now that's just the thing ... it's the woman NOT working that is the issue here,

Like i mentioned earlier, in some airlines it is shared equally, i know of a pilot pair that have both 75% and share the upbrining of theire children.

but here the woman in question has made a claim which most found to be either too early or not fair to those who wanted this as well. Equal rights in this case are not applied.

On the view of her personal i would say; well done, and congratulations.

On a moral ground i said to all those who want parttime, use this as legal precedence(is this the right word?).

And for the employers i would say, call your lawyers and set up some rules and regultations so you don't get cheated like this again. (maybe forget hiring woman for now)

some are more equal than others.

25th Apr 2005, 14:11
my beautiful daughter Beth

The sugary PR spin in that BALPA statement makes my skin crawl :yuk:

25th Apr 2005, 15:11
African Drunk,
I think you're absolutely right.
Many pilots have spent huge amounts of money and time to achieve their ambitions.
Sadly this greedy selfish self centred lady hasn't. Would she be taking these actions/decisions if she had large debts to pay? Indeed, would she have paid for training for her 'dream job' herself if she hadn't the good luck to con BA into paying for her.
And as posted before, my sympathies to the many excellent female pilots who love their flying jobs, and may in future job applications find themselves being ostracised because of their sex.

25th Apr 2005, 16:31
A quote from the news conference:

Jessica declared: ‘I am delighted with this result. I am delighted that I will now be able to spend more time with my beautiful daughter Beth, and will be able to balance caring for her with the responsibilities of my job.


Soon you might have all the time in the world to look after your baby daughter because I don't think BA will take you back. It's cheaper to get rid of you than it is to employ you.

Responsibilities of your job and the effect on the lady pilots who have to go to work were the last thing on your mind.


25th Apr 2005, 21:44
Au Contraire Maximum,

She has all the attributes to be a future Chief Executive!!

25th Apr 2005, 22:51
Jessica will also no doubt be claiming child benefit, although she and her husband can surely get get by without it very comfortably. Why? Because this state allows and encourages such anti-social behaviour. And the judiciary support the nanny state concept at the expense of real people's lives and livelihoods.

So although her attitude stinks, and that of her lawyers and that of the judge, it is the country which is to blame, and the governing bodies. (Yes, I plan to leave in due course)

26th Apr 2005, 06:05
Maximum: Did not bmi have a lady pilot with a baby and a fifty percent roster? easyJet too if I remember rightly. Also I think Maersk had a husband and wife team with the wife on part time to look after the kids.

Do you have a problem with this?

I admire Jessica's political skills - they are a lot sharper than some some of her masonic male colleagues . . .

26th Apr 2005, 07:34
My understanding of this farce is that BA were already making concessions for this individual with both her and her husband granted reduced hours.

Unfortunately, BA failed to realise that Ms Starmer is "one of those" i.e. someone who is prepared to abuse their position for their own advantage. These people exisit throughout society, they don't have to be female, they can be an ethnic minority/disabled whatever. Whereas the vast majority of people will take their own lives into their hands careerwise or on a day-to-day basis, people like Ms Starmer will scream and bitch "Sex/race/disabled discrimination" to further themselves beyond their abilities or benefit themselves with little effort.

Perhaps BA should have just given in to her, this would not have allowed Ms Starmer to have so ably screwed her fellow women pilots. The fact that she has become pregnant again proves the utter and total contempt she holds for her employer and her colleagues.

26th Apr 2005, 07:37
It is good to see that BA's recruitment profiling has worked out perfectly for them, not!

It will be nearly one year since they started their new recruitment campaign, and still it goes on.

Maybe its time for the top brass to take a step back and have a think where they are going wrong!

26th Apr 2005, 08:06
;) I do sometimes wonder, with a somewhat irascibly raised monocle, what the BA Crew Room atmosphere might be on the appearance of either Captain or First Officer Starmer.
Were I to fly for BA and had I the sufficient muscle or seniority to get away with it; I would give serious consideration to writing a letter to my employer informing management that I would have little or no intention of flying with a First Officer whose experience levels fell beneath that required by the company's own excellent standards. The Devil with the tribunal. Little more than a jackass trio of socialist know nothings! It is not their writ to ride roughshod over the level of currency that I, were I flying even as a passenger, would expect from a first level operator and its flight crews.
When I flew part time (50%) through northern winter weather; I used to turn up for work all bright eyed and bushy tailed certainly, but the deterioration in instant expertise was noticeable and I only got away with it because I had a great deal of flight time in such conditions in the first place.
Is it feasible or reasonable to expect BA rostering to bear dear Jess's lack of current experience in mind when the lottery of with whom she shall fly comes around. Zounds. I'm off to catch a gonk.

Alex Whittingham
26th Apr 2005, 09:11
The Devil with the tribunal. Little more than a jackass trio of socialist know nothings!
Mmmm. I take it you are not and never have been an employer, then? With that attitude you would end up paying out an awful lot of compo.

26th Apr 2005, 09:41
;) I gave up being an employer when slavery was abolished.:E

26th Apr 2005, 10:03
It has been mentioned severla times in the postings that Mrs. Starmer is expecting her second child. This information comes from those who know her presumably and is therefore accurate.

The cynic in me (an alleged mysoginist) asks.....Was this plan "B" is plan "A" failed? Whatever, it would appear that the situation now existing will cause BA rostering all sorts of problems. They now have to consider a pilot on 75% availability, a pilot on 50% availability, a pilot who is pregnant (can't say I would like to fly with somebody who could throw up at any moment) and, of course, the needs of the first born. Good luck to them because if they get it wrong they will be accused of being vindictive and another tribunal will ensue.

26th Apr 2005, 10:56
The fact that BA only came up with a 'rule' after her request is irrelevant. In all companies there is a fleet manager/chief pilot/base manager who makes a decision based on the cicumstances of the case and weighs it against company and other financial constraints. Having a rule is totally inflexible and not suitable when it comes to deciding levels of experience based on hours or whatever.

In my book she sounds inexperienced, and should be in the cockpit learning her trade for a few more years before taking time off. She also sounds like an inexperienced mother - perhaps she should be at home learning how to do that properly.

Her court case hasn't helped prospects for all the other female pilots that we have. She clearly wants everybody else (and others in BA) to solve what is essentially her dilemma - career or family.

26th Apr 2005, 11:35
Re: Pregnancy....It is a BA or CAA requirement that no pilot flies once they know that they are pregnant. What normally happens is BA asks them to come into the office a couple of times a week to maintain their pay and the womans' Doctor signs them off with morning sickness so they end up being paid to sit at home.
Please let's not let this thread degenerate into victimising pregnant working women.
BA has a massive problem with this in the CC departments with horrendous percentages of their workforce off at any one time.
This thread should be about the tribunal decision and the seemingly lack of common sense involved. But then again, when was the law ever sensible? I would hope that the same arguements would be made if the person involved was named John X.

26th Apr 2005, 11:54
Thanks for that Maxy. Probably explains the low hours. When returning to work, what training would a pilot have to undertake to regain currency?

26th Apr 2005, 11:56
:) I do so agree that this thread should not degenerate into a pregnant working women bashing excercise. But, let us not disregard the fact that a pregnant woman has indulged in a considerable amount of BA bashing. Furthermore, there are those, of whom I am one, who might curl an eyebrow at the very idea that good old Jess might be described as a working woman.:p

26th Apr 2005, 12:47
Please let's not let this thread degenerate into victimising pregnant working women.
That is the last thing we want to do.

The point here is that this particular pregnant woman appears to have made almost no concessions and has expected the world to revolve around her. She doesn't realise, and most likely does not care, what negative impact this will have on others.

Old King Coal
26th Apr 2005, 12:56
A lot of people today certainly know their 'rights', but don't seem to know that with those 'rights' come 'responsibilities' ( albeit that there used to be a level of responsibility required ).

26th Apr 2005, 13:33
....degenerate into victimising pregnant working womenIf there's to be any finger pointing with that particular charge, I think all fingers should be pojnting squarely in the direction of faaaar away Dorset.

Regarding BALPA, I thought a union was supposed to look after the interests of its memberS - note the plural. This lady is taking the piss, pure and simple, and not just at the expense of the company, (which is bad enough), but at the expense of all her colleagues - with the possible exception of her husband.

To paraphrase a famous aviator, this is one small rest break for (a) woman, a giant leap backwards for womankind.

And 'Old King Cole'... well said.

26th Apr 2005, 14:09
Let's not forget that the tribunal ruled on this....the law has been interpreted to come up with this result. I understand that it had been decided several weeks ago and bounced all the way to the top as it was realised that this would be setting precedents for workers rights under new European legislation. Those posters that reckon BA has been shafted should realise that this ruling applies to ALL businesses in the U.K.
As the Chinese say...."May you live in interesting times"

26th Apr 2005, 14:32
Whilst I agree that pregnancy bashing is the wrong route for this thread to take, I must comment that if this was a planned child, it seems to have made this entire process rather a waste of time. If she feels that she is not spending enough time with just the 1 child on her currently reduced roster, then surely 2 will mean her job is not a possibility. It seems a little bit of a kick in the teeth for BALPA too. They go through all of this, taking on one of the biggest providers of their membership, only for her to seem to say ‘thanks for that, but I’m actually off to put my feet up for a few months while I have another one’. Wonder if this will have an impact on the appeal, in that she now appears to have had no intention of flying at all.
I sincerely hope 25% is not her next intention.
I’m surprised it appears to have been such an open and shut case. No comment appears to have been made on the fact that here 250 mile round trip would have added to her periods of absence, nothing to do with the airline. Also, being part of a very high earning couple, makes the claim that a nanny was hard to find seem a bit flimsy. Aren’t the Beckham’s only offering 20Kish for their nanny of 3. Don’t think J is in quite the same league.

26th Apr 2005, 15:32

No problem at all.

I don't like folk who abuse the system to the detriment of their fellow workers, male or female.

I bet she votes Labour!


Flying Lawyer
26th Apr 2005, 15:36
The law is an ass on occasions and, IMHO, this is one of them.
I hoped she'd lose, but thought she might win.

I can understand the concern about the possible repercussions of her 'win' but, according to my contacts on the fleet, the likely effect upon other women of her getting what she wants is not something which is likely to worry Ms Starmer.

Kalium Chloride
26th Apr 2005, 16:20
Call me cynical but the "isn't-my-daughter-lovely?" quotes from this woman seem more at home in an issue of 'Hello' than an industrial tribunal.

Wonder if she knew she would have attracted even less sympathy if the child had remained nameless, faceless and descriptionless?

26th Apr 2005, 18:39
Re. All of the above
How I wish that all those years ago, as I said good-bye to the family on Christmas Eve or tried to explain to my daughter why I was missing her birthday for to seventh time running, that it was all part of the job and that there were good times too.
It seems to me that this lady wants it all ways, but only to her advantage. I hope that the appeal suceeds. After all no employer in their right mind would employ a woman of child bearing age, would they?
I am sure that she is a decent lady but this is a cause gone too far.
Sadly, Sid

26th Apr 2005, 20:03
have we all temporarily forgotten the unfair dismissal cases in the early 1990s where a large number of WRAFs ranging in rank from SAC to Sqn Ldr were awarded many thousands of pounds in compensation after being forced to leave the RAF on becoming pregnant.

Some of these ladies were married to serving members of the RAF and all were fully aware of the implications of pregnancy in service.

The fact is, some were not at all sorry to be given an "easy" way out while at the same time, a male serving officer had to endure a 3 year ground tour designed to make sure his recent flying experience could not count toward a civvy licence.

The military however, would not have these ladies back and therefore wasted many thousands of pounds in training costs not to mention the money spent in compensation for "lost careers" which the ladies themselves were probably not too upset about!

This was the same RAF that sent you lot to the Falklands, the Gulf, NI, and god knows where else away from family and friends.

At least BA will get some return on their investment by continuing JS's employment and encouraging by example, further recruitment from a section of society hitherto shunned by the airlines and the military.

By questioning employment law, which applies to everyone within an organisation from CEO to bog cleaners, we only play into the clutches of management.

One of the not too cheery aspects of this thread is how united we pilots seem to be behind management over this issue and how we seem to be against BALPA and a fellow member.

Divided we fall buddies!

26th Apr 2005, 20:20
Now the lady is pregnant again! Does this mean she will be taking BA to court again to achive a 33% contract? Or will she trying to get fully paid to stay at home?

Also...I can't believe 2 BA pilots (even on part time contracts) can't afford a nanny to cover some of the time they "have to work".

You have to decide WHAT you want first in life - career or family! :mad:

27th Apr 2005, 00:05
The girl is sharp, Balpa is blunt and the rest of us pick up the slack. One child 50% roster, two children ?% roster, three or more - heaven knows. Call me old fashioned, call me neanderthal, but, 'don't call me stupid' (A Fish Called Wanda). It is a tragic consequence of socialist nanny environments that there will be those morally inadequate enough to 'use' the system to their own advantage. I am all for supporting those in need - single parent families etc, but these two - I include the husband here as he must be a really strong individual - just want their cake and icing and presents and time off all paid for by someone else. Shame on them and all the pc fools who cannot see the wood for the trees. Nothing wrong with a parent wanting children and also employment but there must come a time when a decision has to be made as to which is the more important. Obviously it is the parent side of the equation but why on earth should a company and its other employees both pay for that decision?

Don't get too carried away with whose side Balpa is on, I don't think they know.

27th Apr 2005, 16:30
Obviously it is the parent side of the equation but why on earth should a company and its other employees both pay for that decision?
Because that is the social model in this country - why should BA get away with not supporting the upbringing of our youth and share the burden of ensuring that we have a well-rounded future generation. Every other company has to make that allowance for the future growth of our economy and stability of the youth who will take over this country.

You all miss the point that this is a legal decision - not a moral one. Legally JS has proven a point and she is on firm ground.

Her motivation may be in question, but many have confused the two.

If you don't like the social model and want to unpick it, go and get into politics, but don't take a swipe at someone standing up for their rights in this country.

27th Apr 2005, 16:57
Re-HeatYou all miss the point that this is a legal decision - not a moral one. Legally JS has proven a point and she is on firm ground.
It doesn't necessarily mean the decision was correct. BA's lawyers obviously don't think it's as clear cut as you suggest. BA fought the case and is now appealing the decision.

Even if it was a correct legal decision, is it unreasonable for people to criticise a law which produces a result which most people even in a pilots forum seem to think is barmy?

..... don't take a swipe at someone standing up for their rights in this country. Why not?

Why aren't people entitled to say they think someone 'standing up for their rights' is selfish or reprehensible behaviour in certain circumstances?

27th Apr 2005, 17:12
I flew with the first female pilots in BA. They were a determined bunch who had gone through all kinds of s…t to get there. At the time I was freshly divorced, and heavily into misogyny, but they permanently changed my attitude to women. To successfully pursue a flying career, those women not only had to overcome all sorts of prejudice, but they also had to put on the back burner, the incredibly strong basic female instinct for children. They succeeded because they were good humoured, determined, and above all responsible. More than one of the originals is a Captain now, and has her own family.
J.S. however, is a disgrace to the pilot’s profession in general, and to her female colleagues in particular.
Not only has J.S. milked the system, but also in the company of BALPA, she risks killing the golden goose itself.
No business, even one as big as BA, can survive for long if a significant % of its workers are at home, not working, on full pay, for periods of a year or more. The rules of economics apply to big and small. Does anyone remember Pan-Am & TWA…?(Yes I know different problems, but still economics that did for them)
BALPA needs to carefully consider its position regarding the appeal. By supporting J.S. it will be threatening the very company which provides employment for most of its members.

I am sending this post to Atlyn Forde (a woman) and Head of Communications for BALPA. [email protected]

BALPAs reply will be interesting, and I suggest that members take appropriate action if they are not happy with it.


27th Apr 2005, 17:59
:) Well said indeed!
With protest and resignation directed at BALPA, there lies a remedy for so many who abhor the atrocious actions and achievements of JS whose name should forevever lie in perfidy in the black book of aviation history. :ugh:

28th Apr 2005, 01:53
Re-heat, I completely disagree with your picture of the social model of t'UK. The only responsibilities that an employer has to future generations are to provide a safe working environment which meets or exceeds all regulations pertaining to safety in its environment. They may also provide other benefits as negotiated in accordance with labour legislation which could be conducive for an employee to procreate. I mean child care and maternity leave etc. But my misguided poster, their most important responsibility to the parents of these hypothetical children is to REMAIN IN BUSINESS AND PROFITABLE. I think you need to move to Scandanavia somewhere.

28th Apr 2005, 08:36
Was just pointing out why companies should take on some responsibility - that is an aside from the hours issue, which though important is hypocritical of BA as they have/had managers with similar hours who fly far less.

You might disagree on the social model, but that is what exists in the UK.

The question would be whether CAA rules could override laws on parenting upon which this decision rests. At least a clear rule would make all parties clear on where they stand.

Flight International
26 April 2005

British Airways is seeking guidance from the UK Civil Aviation Authority on the safety implications of a UK employment tribunal verdict that the airline must allow a young co-pilot to work 50% part-time flying hours to care for her one-year-old daughter. The airline is to appeal against the landmark ruling, arguing that the case is about safety, not gender. However, the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) says it welcomes the decision and hopes that it will oencourage more airlines to introduce better flexible working arrangements for all flightcrewo. Jessica Starmer, the pilot who brought the case to tribunal, is ocurrently working part-time on a 75% contracto, according to BA. It argues that since she is a new and inexperienced pilot with about 1,200h commercial aircraft flying time reducing her monthly flying hours to half the normal amount would mean she accumulates experience at too low a rate for effective learning. BA calculates that Starmer would work an average of eight duty days a month. If she were an experienced pilot, which the carrier says it equates to a minimum 2,000h line flying, the company says it would have no objection to contracting Starmer for 50% flexible working.

28th Apr 2005, 09:07
British Airways is seeking guidance from the UK Civil Aviation Authority on the safety implications of a UK employment tribunal verdict that the airline must allow a young co-pilot to work 50% part-time flying hours to care for her one-year-old daughter.

The only way that the CAA could respond to this is by imposing a 'one size fits all' rule on the minimum flying hours a pilot should fly annually.

Such a ruling by the CAA would impose a cost on some airlines, particularly freight carriers, which have light rosters. These airlines would hotly contest any implication that light rosters are a safety hazard just as other airlines contest that heavy rosters are likewise.

BA will fail on this one.

28th Apr 2005, 14:06
MikeGodsell... excellent post, however most Balpa members do not work for BA, and the stats have been that way for over 2 years now. However Balpa still prefers to support its BA member group so in a way what you say still holds true. An employee in a smaller company who took this young ladys stance would not be so fortunate, in both Balpa support and employer response.

28th Apr 2005, 14:23
I to have taken your advice and e-mail the BALPA lady, and recommend that all other members who feel strongly against this ruling do so as well!

Big Hilly
28th Apr 2005, 20:37
I am sending this post to Atlyn Forde (a woman) and Head of Communications for BALPA.
As I have made clear, I am a supporter of Jessica, however, I do think that your idea of emailing BALPA is the first sensible suggestion that has come out of this debate and it makes a refreshing change from the "Yadda, yadda, yadda merry-go-round" that we have had so far.

Whilst I disagree with your viewpoint, I can see, nonetheless, the validity of your concerns and as Heliport said, you are perfectly at liberty to say that you "think someone 'standing up for their rights' is selfish or reprehensible behaviour in certain circumstances". There clearly are bigger issues at stake here and I hope that whatever the final outcome may be, it serves to show that regardless of the specifics of this case, that us pilots are once again becoming a force to be reckoned with. . .

Best wishes,


28th Apr 2005, 21:59
Wow. haven't visited this thread for a while.

I didn't realise that there were so many managers on here, a Pilots' forum. Or at least that's what it seems like.

Those professional pilots running down a person who has forged the way to improve T's & C's should be ashamed of themselves, or at least examine their motivation.

Having read the tribunal judgement it appears that they were not convinced by BA's arguments. The better case won on the day. It seems that some EMPLOYEES have difficulty dealing with that. Pity.

Flying Lawyer
28th Apr 2005, 23:07
The Judgment was given on the 21st April. It is not yet available from the Employment Tribunal but this is a summary of what it contains.

Mrs Starmer was recruited and trained ab initio by BA.
May 2001: Employed as a First Officer on the Airbus fleet (short haul) on a full time contract.
(Met Captain Starmer and, in due course and after some necessary 'formalities' had been completed, became the new Mrs Starmer.)
February 2003 onwards: Pregnant/unable to fly - “ground duties”.
October 2003: Began maternity leave, giving birth at the end of that month.
March 2004: Application for a contract variation to 50% refused. BA offered a 75% compromise. She declined the offer.
September 2004: Returned to work, not having flown for 19 months.
Has used her leave “and other means” (direct quote from the judgment) to take time off pending the outcome of her claim against BA.
[Note: Five pilots on the LHR Airbus fleet applied to work part-time in Feb/March 2004. Four women applied for 50%. One application was granted and the other three (incl Mrs Starmer) were offered 75%. The man applied for 75% and was refused.]

Legal Issues:
(1) Did BA apply a provision, criterion or practice (“PCP”) to the Claimant which it applied (or would have applied) equally to a man?
Held: Yes.

(2) Was that ‘PCP’ such that it would be to the detriment of a considerably larger proportion of women than men?
Held: Yes
“Most applications for part-time work within the BA workforce are from women ….. generally for child care reasons. We consider that the figures show that the PCPs are to the detriment of a considerably larger proportion of women than of men.”
“We do not consider the Claimant’s decision to live some 107 miles and approximately two hours drive from her place of work to have any bearing on our consideration of the claim. The impact of BA’s actions in respect of her tours of duty, time at work and absences from home would be the same wherever she lived.”

(3) Could BA show the ‘PCP’ to be justifiable irrespective of the Claimant’s sex?
Held: No

Main Arguments/Findings
Burden of additional costs
(Additional costs of recruiting, training, conversion course etc and employing more than one pilot to carry out a full-time role.)
“The costs involved in training new pilots are appreciable. However, the costs must be considered in the context of BA’s business. (The Tribunal looked at BA’s Profit/Loss for a 4.5 year period.)
While the reason relates to a legitimate objective ….. we do not consider the increased costs incurred by BA to make up the 25% difference (between 50% time applied for and 75% time offered) …. justify the PCP. BA will have to incur extra costs to recruit/train a pilot to fill the 25% it has agreed Mrs Starmer need not work.”
(Comment: BA’s offer of a 75% compromise to accommodate Mrs Starmer was used against them.)

Detrimental impact on BA’s reserve cover for operational eventualities
(Part-time pilots aren’t available for reserve cover.)
“There will be an impact on the reserve. However … approval of 75% removed her from the pool of pilots able to work in that capacity.”
(Comment: Again, the offer of a compromise appears was used against BA.)

Pilot resource difficulties
(F/O’s were already flying at or near the maximum annual hours agreed with BALPA, and sometimes over.)
“BA had a recruitment freeze - we do not doubt for other than proper business reasons – (but it is) a self-imposed constraint.”
“BA has a practice of allowing pilots to transfer to other fleets when possible. This …. is a matter within BA’s control.”
(Comment: ie BA chooses to allow pilots to transfer between fleets but it doesn’t have to. Watch this space.)

Pilots already flying maximum agreed flying hours
”This was a voluntary agreement between BA and the relevant trade union and no more.”

“There were differences of opinion expressed as regards safety. In general terms, the Claimant and the witnesses she produced in support held the view that competence and safety of a pilot could not be satisfactorily measured by reference to hours flown, whereas BA’s witnesses view was that the number of hours flown was a necessary and realistic threshold which had to be achieved in a relatively concentrated period before a pilot could have a safe reduction in duties below 75% of full time.”
“We are prepared to give some weight to the notion that, after training, a pilot benefits from a sustained and concentrated period in performing her job. We find however that BA has not given any cogent evidence as to why it would be unsafe or in any way unsuitable for the Claimant or other pilot to fly at 50% of full-time. While the reason put forward related to a legitimate objective we find that the PCP has not been justified on the grounds of safety.”
(Note: At the time of her application, Mrs Starmer had a frozen ATPL and had flown 970 hours with BA over a 20 month period.)

Decision: “We find …. that the reasons put forward by BA while relating to legitimate objectives …. are not such as are reasonable necessary or justify the PCP."
BA unlawfully discriminated against Mrs Starmer contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act 1976.

A hearing to decide the 'Remedy' will be held on a date to be fixed.

Those who think the Tribunal’s decision will help all BA pilots who want part-time contracts are being a little over-optimistic IMHO. The policy upon which Mrs Starmer relied relates to applications by parents (or partners living with the parent) of a child under six years old, or under 18 if the child is disabled, amongst other conditions. It doesn’t mean ‘open house’ for all applications to succeed.

The Tribunal rejected BA's safety argument because it considered on the evidence produced that it had not provided sufficient “cogent evidence” to support it. 'We were not presented with any "data" about the effects of reduced flying on the performance of pilots.'
It doesn’t necessarily follow that BA won't be able to do in another case. Professional airline pilots are better placed than I am to express informed opinions about that aspect.

Mrs Starmer claimed some named women pilots with children had been forced to leave because of BA's attitude to working mothers. She didn't call of them to confirm her claims and the tribunal doesn't appear to have attached any weight to that aspect.

Some might think there's a certain irony to the tribunal's decision. BA introduced a scheme in 2000 to accommodate child care needs subject to recency considerations and there was clear and undisputed evidence that BA had a policy of actively recruiting women pilots.

Tudor Owen

(Apologies for the long post, and any errors or omissions, but the original is 23 pages long! Hope it's of interest.)

Norman Stanley Fletcher
29th Apr 2005, 00:17
Flying Lawyer - thank you for an excellent and informative post.

Overstress - you unwisely think that the 'improving of terms and conditions' under these circumstances is a good thing. I am reminded of the efforts of 'Red Robbo' and his mates in the Seventies to 'improve terms and conditions' at British Leyland (which subsequently became Rover Cars for those too young to remember). The only problem was that while the ailing British car giant caved into the ludicrous demands of the rip-off culture that prevailed at that time, the competition became more and more efficient. The rest is now history as they say.

Although I work for one of BA's competitors, I cannot help but feel a degree of sympathy for them as they have have faced this cynical attempt at ripping them off. There are no doubt considerable advantages to being paid to have babies at your company's expense, but alas Nero fiddles while Rome burns. With companies like easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, Wizz Air, etc not just nibbling at BA's door but truly chewing chunks off their lounge carpet then the pleasure may be short lived. 'Improvements' in terms and conditions will pale into insignificance compared to the pleasure of actually having a job. Pity.

29th Apr 2005, 04:54
:) FL.
Thank you very much for taking the trouble to post a most interesting read. It seems to me that BA went into the hearing a little under prepared. At the very least it would appear that they rather shot themselves in the foot. Bring out the big guns? Win an appeal?:)

29th Apr 2005, 05:02
Norman Stanley Fletcher, has easyJet ever had a lady pilot, with a baby, on a part time roster?

Curious Pax
29th Apr 2005, 09:25
Not really my place to butt in as a humble SLF, but a couple of queries:

in the judgment as described by FL there is no mention of BA changing the rules, which surprised me somewhat. For me it is the single point on which the direction of my sympathy lies - earlier in the thread it has been described several times how the rules regarding minimum experience were changed between the application for part time working and the decision. Does this mean that the rules weren't in fact changed, or that the tribunal didn't regard the change as a signnificant event?

Most of us in our working lives make judgements about matters based on what we know/believe our company's rules are, without checking with HR every 5 minutes. Certainly when my wife and I had an addition 5 years ago we looked at the rules regarding time off for new fathers (was up to 5 days at managers discretion at that point). That information (my boss told me that the discretion could be assumed as far as he was concerned) dictated our plans for the year in terms of juggling my annual leave. Had they changed the rules just before the birth to rescind the time off option, then I too would have been livid (not to go as far as a tribunal, but the point is the same). Happily for me the rules did change, but to give 10 days off automatically, which was nice.

From what has been written here I would tend to agree that BA messed up their defence somewhat as far as the safety angle is concerned - they appear to have displayed the symptom that many on here have which is to assume they just have to say the 's' word and everyone will jump into line. That isn't to deny that safety is top of the priority list, but it does sometimes seem to get used when what the user is really saying is 'shut up and do what you are told' which isn't quite the same thing.

I await the appeal with interest.

PS: is the alleged second pregnancy for real, or just an urban legend? Ms Starmer has every right to procreate as she sees fit, but in this case the timing would seem a little unfortunate if it is indeed true.

Norman Stanley Fletcher
29th Apr 2005, 14:05
Yarpy - the honest answer is I don't know. I know of only one 'working mum' at another base and I do not know her personal circumstances. I am however fairly certain that none of our women pilots have felt it necessary to go through the same process as the lady at BA.

We do have a number of excellent women pilots who are hardworking, professional and a pleasure to fly with. The sad reality is that in future such people are less likely to be employed in the airline industry due to the greed of an unrepresentative minority.

29th Apr 2005, 14:15
A very interesting thread which mirrors many problems and opinions held within my own company (NATS). Why do so many pilots and also ATC ers see their occupation as so different from what the rest of the population does to earn a living. We are subject to the same employment rules as all other occupations and I am sure most of you welcome this fact. Why should a female pilot not be entitled to the same quality of life in terms of part-time working as for instance a bank clerk. There would seem to be some confusion of thought among certain members of the profession who want to think of it as a "special" career for some but deny even the equivalent rights to others. ie. mothers requesting part time hours.

29th Apr 2005, 15:07
Sorry if this has been said in this thread before - it's a long one to wade through although I expect you've all forgotten the earlier styuff anyway....

I'm confused about why this is a "sex discrimination" case. Are all the male pilots having 50% time off to look after their own children and she is not allowed? In which case, good for her.

Otherwise, how is she being discriminated against on the grounds of her sex? Is it because children are an inevitable consequence of being female and therefore anyone who denies a woman her femininity is being sexist? Surely that makes it a "lifestyle discrimination" case, but even that seems somewhat dodgy.

Enlighten me, someone. I need to know if I can claim sex discrimination because the girls get all the compliments and I just get the insults. (OK - I probably deserve them....)

29th Apr 2005, 17:24
It is indirect sex discrimination, due to the fact that, proportionately, more females request part time working than males (according to Mrs P-T-G, who is an employment lawyer).

The madness of this is that a male pilot would not win the same case, as he could not claim the same.

29th Apr 2005, 17:46
absolutely spot on mate

29th Apr 2005, 18:01
Why should a female pilot not be entitled to the same quality of life in terms of part-time working as for instance a bank clerk?

Because she chose to work in a profession that involves responsibility for people's lives as well as very expensive equipment.

You make it sound as if she was forced to become a pilot, and therefore ought to be entitled to "compensation" for the fact that she has a tougher job.

If she wants the flexibility granted to bank clerks, no-one is stopping her becoming a bank clerk. But people have to get this ridiculous idea out of their heads that the conditions of one job should apply equally to another job - particularly when the responsibilities involved are so wildly different.

My job often requires me to work abroad for several days at a time, often at short notice, and to work through holiday periods while my mates are getting trolleyed.

It's not my employer's fault that the nature of my job doesn't fit a cosy 9-to-5, home-to-the-wife framework. I choose to do this for a living - and therefore I have to accept the disruption. If I don't want to put up with it, I don't have to stay - there's plenty of people who'll gladly step into my shoes. :suspect:

29th Apr 2005, 18:16

The answer to your question is most certainly yes.

Decisive Attitude
29th Apr 2005, 18:46
Ignoring the specifics of this individual case for a moment, and taking the issue of gender out of it, the question above could be re-worded slightly thus:

Why should a...pilot not be entitled to the same quality of life...as for instance a bank clerk?

I suspect the answer to that is the same as the answer to these questions;

Why can't train drivers, bus drivers and taxi drivers all work a regular 9-5 day like bank clerks?
Why can't police officers expect to have bank holidays off work, like bank clerks do?
Why do ambulance crews, firefighters, hospital staff, the AA, duty solicitors, air traffic controllers, etc etc all have to work on Christmas day while bank clerks get to spend the day at home?
Why do supermarket check-out staff have to work until midnight or, in some stores, around the clock on a 24-hr basis while bank clerks don't?

The answer (and there is only one), is because being a {insert job here} isn't like being a bank clerk.

The reasons for this are various and colourful. Sometimes it's because the job requires a level of responsibility above and beyond that of a 'normal' job. Sometimes it's because the conditions so ascribed are simply part and parcel of doing a particular job.

Either way, the point is that the choice of whether to accept the job or not is there to be made right at the get-go and even, normally, beyond that; the option to change employer or even career isn't normally beyond the reach of many.

And there ends my general point.

Flying Lawyer
29th Apr 2005, 18:57
Thanks for the appreciative comments. I learn a great deal about flying and the aviation industry from professional pilots on and off PPRuNe so it's good to have the opportunity to give something back occasionally. :)

Curious Pax
"In the judgment as described by FL there is no mention of BA changing the rules."
That appears to have been a complete red herring. There was no change in any relevant BA rules between Mrs Starmer starting work in May 2001 and the refusal of her application in March 2004.
What actually happened was that the law relating to applications for part-time working changed in 2003. BA formulated a policy setting out how it would apply the new law, the factors which it would take into account when considering each application for a part-time contract etc. That policy was published in 2004. It played no part in BA's decision (in 2003) to refuse her application, and BA didn't suggest it did.

"Why should a female pilot not be entitled to the same quality of life in terms of part-time working as for instance a bank clerk?"
Some might say because we make a free choice when we choose a career which affects our life-style instead of choosing a 9-5 (or other regular fixed hours) job which has little or no impact upon our home life. If the enjoyment outweighs the disadvantages, do it. If it doesn't, do another job.
eg If you don't want to be away from home and/or work unsociable hours, don't become an airline pilot. If you don't want to work every evening and most weekends, don't become a barrister.

I can understand your confusion - I suspect you're one of a very large majority.
Parliament, in its infinite wisdom, decided that if a provision, criterion or practice which applies to both men and women operates to the "detriment" of a considerably larger proportion of women than men, then that is unlawful sex discrimination - even if men are subject to precisely the same provision, criterion or practice.
The figures showed that, of the relatively small number of BA pilots who'd applied to work part-time, there were more applications by women than men.
So, although both men and women had applications refused, and although it appears BA was in fact more likely to grant an application by a woman, it could still be proved by statistics that the proportion of women affected by (refused under) under BA's criterion was larger than the proportion of men - because more women applied.
That's just a very brief summary (the judgment included pages and pages of statistics) and not an attempt to justify the law - I'm not a politician. ;)

29th Apr 2005, 19:04
Flying Lawyer

Well reasoned and succinct - nicely done!

29th Apr 2005, 19:07
Dylsexic spake thusly:

I'm confused about why this is a "sex discrimination" case. Are all the male pilots having 50% time off to look after their own children and she is not allowed? In which case, good for her.

This seemed to confuse BA too who have always maintained that this was not a gender issue. Surely, in arguing this case on gender grounds, JS, BALPA and her lawyers (and, aparently, the judges) are guilty of sex discrimination as they are implying that mothers alone are responsible for childcare.

Edited as Flying Lawyer was answering the above observation as I was typing it. (Aren't lawyers clever ;) )

All I can really add is that the law, as dictated by parliament, is an ass. In trying to rid the country of sex discrimination, it is guilty of, yes, you've guessed it, sex discrimination...

29th Apr 2005, 19:16
Excellent post Konkordski - does she really think she can walk into a highly skilled and expensive to employ profession , and then 5 minutes later hold that same employer to ransom just because she changes her lifestyle and chooses to live 150 miles away ?

She's done a big dis-service to women pilots,her colleagues ,and maybe in the long run ,herself .

29th Apr 2005, 19:17
I have looked at this whole subject at length for a few days before I made input of my comments.

Its simple in my mind. I think this lady has more cheek than a sumo wrestler. Her piddling amount of experience is nothing compared to her peers and as I see it she spat in their faces - and BA's.

I note that BA are approaching the CAA "for guidance on the safety matter" and I hope that the CAA will advise them that they should not alter them for this poor excuse for a loyal pilot.

I think that BA should dispense with her services as soon as possible. The attitude that a family is more important than a job is fine - just don't expect to find the job waiting when she determines her return when she has had enough children. If she does go back watch out OP's she will be ringing in to say she can't make it because one of the kids has mumps/measles/cold/cough/nappy rash/thrush/runny nose/kept her awake/needs feeding...............................please fill in all I have forgotten.

BALPA will be, or should be, cringing at the lack of support for their pathetic agreement to this case.

29th Apr 2005, 19:20
And again another good post CaptainFillosan,she has also spat in the faces of all her colleagues,as BA is dseperately trying to save every penny it can , and along she comes and costs them a whole lot more with virtually zero productivity - well done :mad:

29th Apr 2005, 19:20
If the said lady had requested 50% part time to look after her terminally ill partner would the views expressed by some of our more pre-historic members still be the same?
To say that she knew the rules of the game before she joined would seem to indicate that these peoples outlook on life has not changed since they embarked upon their chosen career.
Things happen to us all which may adapt our requirements from our job. If our company is willing or obliged to meet these requirements why should the workforce be so anti this.
I suggest that all those people that have lambasted this lady think long and hard if there are ANY circumstances in their own lives which could make part-time working a preferable option to being forced out of a career that they love and have worked hard to achieve.

Decisive Attitude
29th Apr 2005, 19:52
The difference presumably being, ifaxu, that she and her husband chose to have children.

Had the situation you described occured, I dare say that the situation would not have transpired as a result of choice. Consequently I would suggest that the two situations would not be considered in the same way.

I'm only calling this the way I see it, on the basis of what has been written in the thirty-odd previous pages. Many people who have a beef with this decision do so because the occupants of Starmer Towers made a choice to have kids with what appears to the casual observer to be a '...and bugger the company" attitude.

What is as significant about this case for me personally, just as much as the verdict, is the fact that we can seemingly right what has been referred to by many as an inequality by swapping it with, in my view, just as big an inequality. Humour me for a moment, if you will....

By that, I mean that any pilot granted a part-time working contract (and again I'm referring to a general situation rather than this specific case) will continue to accrue seniority at the same rate. Meanwhile while those who are left working the line have to firstly help pick up the slack left by the lack of resource (i.e. they have to work harder - and elsewhere on these forums are BA pilots talking of how they already feel worked to the bone) while only gaining seniority at the same rate as those who work half as hard.

This, to me, seems inequitous. Yet nobody seems to have picked up the banner of righteousness on this issue.

And what'smore, it has been shown that more women both apply and are granted part-time working within BA than men. Consequently, I conclude that male pilots are going to be disadvantaged by this inequity in the rate of accrued seniority disproportionately moreso than women.

I'd say that, on the basis of the transcripts from the tribunal, might well be a case for playing the sexual discrimination card....


Finally, a day or three ago somebody said that if this sets a precedent, it will create jobs. That may be true, but here is some food for thought;

If it does, will they be part time jobs or full time?

If new staff get taken on to fill the manpower gap left by those going onto PT contracts, what would happen if, for any socio-cultural reason, many of those PT workers came back to work therby creating a manpower surplus?

Once the kiddies have grown up and left home, maybe they would want to come back to work. If/when the pensions crash really bites, perhaps they'd be forced back into FT work. Perhaps when they've accrued enough seniority for a captaincy they might feel more inclined to go FT again. There are many possibilities.

What happens then? Does BA just end up with a bloated workforce and hence become uncompetitive? Do the pilots taken on as back-fill recieve their cards ("Sorry darling, but you're no longer needed...")? Or do those on PT contracts get told that they simply can't come back full time?

And, if the latter, will we see more tribunals?


29th Apr 2005, 20:29
I feel assured now after reading through this thread that the basic psychometric test profile for our national carrier requires successful results only from neandertal low brow moron alpha males, or cropped headed hairy legged wimmin who don't feel an affinity with men, thus there is no real input from either sample into the global gene pool.

A cunning stunt by management!! They'll have you paying for your type ratings next.

Is the real issue simply that some of you Alpha male neandertals can't cope with the fact that your little lady is just as capable of handling the big iron as you are?

Or perhaps that, if you are a female, wimmin pilot, that you don't like the cut of the gybe of the sort of girl that might want a baby and a life outside the cockpit?

I hope I'm wrong, but have another look at the above posts.

I'm sure the psychometric profiling could be one reason why there seems to be a difference in success in legal precedent between the commercially orientated, intellectually more sophisticated, revenue positive cabin crew, who do seem to be able to get their act together, and the plane spotting workaday proles we now find in the right seat at the airline formerly known as the world's favorite.

Think about it.

decisive attitude

Oh, would a pilot who had an engine failure on take off accrue seniority and experience at a higher rate as his mates who had no major issues on the line?

Is a first line flight on type any more dangerous for the trainee crew and passengers than a normal flight?

I think not, so your point about experience is what exactly?

Decisive Attitude
29th Apr 2005, 21:13
Would a pilot who had an engine failure on take off accrue seniority and experience at a higher rate as his mates who had no major issues on the line?
No, of course not. Where did I infer that it would?
Is a first line flight on type any more dangerous for the trainee crew and passengers than a normal flight?
Again, no.
I think not, so your point about experience is what exactly?
I would agree. I think, however, you missed the point; which was simply that somebody who flies for the company on a full-time contract, flying 800-900 hours a year, would only accrue seniority at the same rate as somebody on a part-time contract, presumably flying 400-450 hours per year.

Ergo, they both have the same amount of time to wait until command, the same amount of opportunity to bid on better routes and so on. This is despite the fact that one person is working full time for the company (and contributing full-time levels of productivity for the company) while the other person working PT (for whatever reason at all) spends half the time away from the job in a way that doesn't directly contribute to the productivity of the company.

I never mentioned once that this was a safety issue. I did state that I personally see this is just as much of an inequality as the case that has formed the basis of the discussion here.

Max Angle
29th Apr 2005, 21:27

That post is without doubt the most complete and utter rubbish I have ever read on PPruNe, and I've read a lot over the years. It does neither you, nor the cause you appear to be supporting any credit at all. None of the points you make deserve to be commented on so I won't bother and hope no one else does either. If that's the only level you can join the debate at, please don't.

29th Apr 2005, 22:46
Latest news on the grapevine - JS has been offered 50% by BA as per the ruling and has now refused it. Funny that, seeing as she'll now get her maternity pay based on 75% and not 50%.

This is only rumour control - don't shoot the messenger.

29th Apr 2005, 22:53
I hope you are joking - doing a few hours flying , dragging her employer through the courts and press and then REFUSING the one thing she was fighting for ????:mad:

Well, she really deserves all thats coming to her now, i'm sorry.

You don't get anywhere in this game being a greedy queue-jumper , especially without a bit of real hard graft first.

The nerve of it all - she is making a farce out of her colleagues ,demeaning the real value of special circumstances for real hard workers and all that comes with it.
There is a shortage of airbus pilots and many trying to get p/t after 10-20 years service.

I would not want to be on her next flight - if she ever operates another one .... with 2 children in the offing, and with her husbands captains salary leaving her 'unable to afford childcare' :rolleyes:

Whatever next ? Madness.

30th Apr 2005, 02:26

If that rumour's true, I think her maternity pay will be based on the full 100%.

See the summary by Flying Lawyer -March 2004: Application for a contract variation to 50% refused. BA offered a 75% compromise. She declined the offer.
September 2004: Returned to work, not having flown for 19 months.
Has used her leave “and other means” (direct quote from the judgment) to take time off pending the outcome of her claim against BA. ie She's still in theory working 100%.

Whatever people may think of her one way or the other, nobody's suggested she's anything other than one very shrewd, determined and tough lady who knows exactly what she wants for herself - and how to get it.

30th Apr 2005, 06:46
:) Anti-ice. Perhaps this might be aconsolation and a solace for your soul:
A week is a long time in aviation as it might be in politics and those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.
JS is seemingly so propelled by hubris that one can only wait, with a degree perhaps of Schadenfreude, for her moment of Icarian tumble.

30th Apr 2005, 08:47
I don't have practice rights in the UK. But I do know something about antipodean tribunals – of which we have many.
In Oz, tribunals similar to the UK Employment Tribunal are not courts. In most cases, there is a right set out in the Act that establishes the tribunal, to appeal to a court on an error of law.
Also in Oz, a party to Tribunal proceedings may be able to apply to a court to seek judicial review of a Tribunal decision, as if there were legal errors in it.
From a distance, it seems as if there are conflicting pieces of legislation. The Tribunal has ruled on the matter before it within the terms of its own legislation. However, I doubt if it is a court.

Are there not UK Air Navigation Rules and Orders made pursuant to other legislation that go to safety standards? And are there not specific Rules and Orders that go either directly to flight deck competency standards (and minimum hours), or call up other regulations that specify such standards? Or are there regulations that empower an operator to determine such standards? Is there not an obligation imposed on an aircraft operator to adhere to such standards? And don’t these rules and standards apply to all pilots, irrespective of gender?

Does what Ms S wants comply with all of the above?

Flying Lawyer
30th Apr 2005, 13:03

The short anser to each of your questions, except the last, is Yes.
Your final question:
She complies with the minimum legal requirements, but not with BA's requirement regarding part-time flying.
The tribunal didn't accept that BA's additional requirement was necessary.

In summary ....
BA imposes more stringent requirements than the minima required by the CAA through aviation legislation. (So do many other operators.)
The Tribunal said it acknowledged BA's right to do so, but then went on to say it wasn't persuaded that this particular requirement was necessary.
BA considers that, even if fleet resources and/or budget constraints woud allow, the number of hours flown, and the period in which those hours were flown, should be taken into account when deciding whether a particular application can safely be granted. ie It's prepared to allow newly-qualified and inexperienced pilots like Mrs Starmer to fly 75%, but not as low as 50% until they've gained not only more hours but gained them in a concentrated period of flying.
Note: At the time Mrs Starmer applied, her application failed on resource and budget grounds, so the next stage (flight safety considerations) didn't arise.

BA's flight safety stance was considered by the Tribunal (despite objections by Mrs Starmer's lawyers) but, having considered it, the tribunal rejected it: "We are prepared to give some weight to the notion that, after training, a pilot benefits from a sustained and concentrated period in performing her job. We find however that BA has not given any cogent evidence as to why it would be unsafe or in any way unsuitable for the Claimant or other pilot to fly at 50% of full-time."
(ie The tribunal didn't accept that it would be unsafe or in any way unsuitable for even a brand new frozen-ATPL holder to immediately fly only 50%.)

The Tribunal heard evidence from senior BA pilots as to why it was considered necessary and witnesses called by Mrs Starmer who said they thought it wasn't. NB: As a matter of law, it was for BA to prove the requirement was justified. The tribunal considered that actual "data" was necessary if BA was to satisfy them on this point and that, as a long-established major employer, that BA should be in a position to supply statistical data to justify the policy if it was in fact justifiable.
Some might think that smacks of circular reasoning. Given that BA doesn't allow inexperienced pilots to fly only 50%, it's not easy to see what 'data' they'll have to prove that a more relaxed system would cause safety problems.

BA's argument was that it imposes requirements which it considers to be necessary and, where flight safety is involved, trial and error to see if reducing requirements/standards has any adverse effect isn't appropriate. That approach didn't find favour with the tribunal.

NB: This case does not create a legal precedent. ie Another tribunal might well come to a different conclusion re the flight safety aspects.

PPRuNe Pop
30th Apr 2005, 16:50
I have a burning question FL!! In what capacity were the tribunal members able to say that BA is right to impose their own safety standards and then be not persuaded that they are right to do so? How can they state that in this case it was not necessary! That sounds like a dangerous statement to me. Who among the three is familiar with the complexities of flying and BA in particular.

How were they able to make decisions against BA when they are not (presumably) in a position to understand the ANO (who is) and therefore make a vital judgement such as this.

Somehow I feel that they have taken sides but I guess I am using my imagination too much! Maybe! ;)

Then, of course, I may be missing something amongst the thousands of words written here. :(

30th Apr 2005, 18:18
Presumably the members of the Tribunal never fly or if they do, they don't fly BA. If they did, how would a PA announcement as follows go down with them:

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Welcome on board. Your first officer today is.....and this is their first trip back after 19 months off. They tell me that though they haven't flown a lot, they used to be able to Hack It and have promised to give it a shot anyway. I will let them fly the first leg just to get the feel of things again. Don't worry, if they really cock up then I will step in and try to put it right, hopefully before it is too late."

30th Apr 2005, 22:16
Jessica may have raised negative comments about women pilots in PPRuNe, however, look at this delightful response to a similar problem - in the India Times http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1093800.cms

NEW DELHI: Flying Officer Anjali Gupta's alleged insubordination and arrest will however not deter the Indian Air Force (IAF) from scaling down the recruitment of women in its ranks.

On the contrary, IAF officials say that women are playing an important role in its operations.

Gupta, 30, currently being court-martialled in Bangalore on charges of indiscipline, insubordination and financial irregularities, has accused three of her seniors of sexually harassing her.

But this has made no difference to IAF's outlook towards women.

"The women officers are absolutely compatible in the air force and they have been performing very well since they were first inducted in 1993," IAF spokesman Squadron Leader Mahesh Upasani told IANS.
"There are no plans to scale back their recruitment," he added.

30th Apr 2005, 22:24
Trouble with people today is no one wants to take responsibility
For their own actions….. Children are not a fashion accessory,
If you can’t look after them yourself, don’t have them!!!
Remember kids don’t ask to be born!!!! :confused:

2nd May 2005, 11:21
In the interest of keeping some semblance of order on these forums I have decided to merge all new posts on this very interesting and topical subject in the new thread which was started by Dave Fielding, the BALPA rep who has kindly provided some much needed insight into the case.

The debate can be followed in this thread: Jessica Starmer - BALPA's view (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=173023)

The level of debate has been encouraging and the number of editorial interventions have been few save for the occasional ill-thought through reply which displayed the posters lack of intelligence. I would like to thank everyone who has participated so far.