BA appeal blow is boost for equality in the workplace

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has rejected British Airways’ appeal in the case of Jessica Starmer, the mother whose request to work part-time was refused by the airline.

In April, an employment tribunal ruled in favour of 26-year-old BA pilot Jessica Starmer, who complained of sex discrimination when she was not allowed to cut her hours to look after her baby.

Starmer wanted to fly 50% of her allotted hours, but BA insisted she fly at least 75% to build up her hours in the cockpit.

BA denied the complaint, arguing it was about health and safety and not gender. The company said its pilots should have at least 2,000 hours of flying experience – “around three years of full-time flying” – before they could work at 50% levels.

But Starmer claimed she had the right to work part-time under flexible working regulations introduced by the government last year. The EAT agreed.

Jenny Watson, acting chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “It is great news for millions of women in the UK juggling their careers with their responsibilities at home – too many of whom are denied using their talents to the full.

“The UK is facing a crisis if it does not address the need for flexible hours at work. Without addressing women’s responsibilities at home as well as at work, we’ll continue to lose out on female talent.”

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