British Airways gives into female pilot Jessica Starmer’s flexible working request

British Airways (BA) has backed down after a three-year bid to prevent pilot Jessica Starmer reducing her hours by 50%.

The airline has withdrawn its appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that found in favour of Starmer.

In April 2005, the court found BA guilty of sex discrimination in turning down her request to cut her hours in half so she could look after her child.

BA insisted she worked at least 75% of full-time hours to build up her flying experience, insisting it was an issue of health and safety rather than gender.

Then in July 2005, the airline lost an Employment Appeal Tribunal judgment against the ruling. Now it has dropped plans to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

In a joint statement with the British Airline Pilots Association, BA said: “British Airways and Mrs Starmer each recognise the need for flexibility on the part of employers to enable parents to balance the needs of a demanding career and family life.”

Welcoming the news, Jenny Watson, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “Mrs Starmer is just one of the millions of parents in Britain today who want to continue their careers while also managing caring responsibilities at home – but need the support of their employers to be able to work flexibly.”

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