Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Friday, 9 March 2007

BA pilot's part-time work victory

Pilot Jessica Starmer at press conference
Jessica Starmer wanted more time to look after her daughter

A female British Airways pilot has succeeded in a three-year campaign to be allowed to work part-time.

Jessica Starmer, from Wareham in Dorset, had been denied a request to work part-time so she could look after her daughter, Beth.

BA said it had withdrawn an appeal against a previous sex discrimination employment tribunal ruling, which had found in her favour.

The airline said it would allow Ms Starmer to cut her work hours by 50%.

The firm added that it would make a donation to a charity of Ms Starmer's choice and a contribution to her costs.

Ms Starmer said she was keen to put the long-running dispute behind her.

"I'm looking forward to a positive relationship with British Airways in the future," she told the BBC.

"I see it as a matter of culture change, I think the culture is changing. Women do have careers now, but at the same time they want to look after their children and do the best for their children."

'Show flexibility'

BA had argued that its refusal to allow Ms Starmer to work fewer hours was a health and safety issue, because she had not completed the required amount of flying hours under the company's rules.

But in a joint statement issued on behalf of the airline, Ms Starmer and pilots' union Balpa, BA said it now recognised "the high standards that she has been able to maintain".

The airline added: "Her flying experience has now reached a level which, together with other measures agreed with British Airways, satisfies its safety concerns."

BA added that pilots in similar circumstances to Ms Starmer would be eligible for 50% contracts in the future, subject to conditions.

The airline said it planned to review a flying hours threshold, whereby pilots must have flown for a total of 2,000 hours before being considered for a shorter contract.

Ms Starmer joined BA in 2001 and pilots short-haul flights to destinations across Europe.

"We are delighted with this outcome for Jessica and others in her position," said Balpa general secretary Jim McAuslan.

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


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