International airlines can breathe a sigh of relief after a court ruled they can treat all staff according to the employment laws of the country in which the firm is registered.
Three Belgian workers at budget carrier Ryanair this week had their claim for the greater redundancy terms offered by Belgian law thrown out by a court in Mons.
If they had won their case, airlines would have faced the nightmare prospect of dealing with different employees under different labour laws. But the Belgian labour court said that it did not have the authority to make a judgment in the Ryanair case as it could not determine the employees’ habitual place of work.
Although the three workers began and ended their working days in Belgium, they spent the majority of their time in the air.
Ryanair human resources director Eddie Wilson said: “We believe the Belgian court has made a sensible decision in this case. It will help to clarify the position for other airline businesses employing workers on board aircraft that regularly cross jurisdictions.”
Stefan Corbanie, partner at the Eversheds law firm that acted for Ryanair, said the ruling was a significant boost for airlines.
“It will help them adapt their business structure in a way that will minimise their exposure to such claims in the future,” he added.