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International Day of Families: How BALPA is pushing for family-friendly policies for pilots

by Nancy Jackson Media and Communications Officer

Families come in all shapes and sizes and face all sorts of unique challenges. For pilots it is no different.

The very nature of the job means that pilots often spend prolonged periods away from home, have to miss family events and can’t always be available, even in a family crisis.

In this video, four children of with piloting parents discuss what being part of a high-flying family is like:

In many ways aviation is lagging behind other industries when it comes to family-friendly policies. Ensuring piloting is an attractive profession to all, is a multi-faceted subject which we recognise raises questions about flexible working, rostering and the role of parents, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave. At its most fundamental level, however, lies the issue of maternity pay. That’s why BALPA is addressing this issue with our Baby on Board campaign and we are making an extra push to mark International Day of Families.

We can see a clear need for the industry to tackle the inadequacy in maternity pay immediately and a need for a more family-friendly approach in general.

Most airlines offer only the standard rate of statutory maternity pay set by the government, which is currently £145.18 for weeks seven to 39 of maternity leave. For many pilots, this will represent a reduction in the normal take-home pay of 80-90%.

These pilot testimonials give real life examples of just how difficult it is to make finances work when female pilots have a family.

At BALPA we believe it should not be this difficult. That’s why we launched our Baby on Board campaign to fight for enhanced maternity pay for pilots.

Since our campaign launch, attended by the then Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, Maria Miller MP, who Chairs the Women and Equalities Committee in the House of Commons and Frances O’Grady, the General Secretary of the TUC, we have been working to ensure maternity pay is on the agenda industry-wide.

Our Company Councils have listened to the message and are negotiating with airlines to push for real changes. At the same time our petition on the topic is growing in strength. We already have well over 5,000 signatures.
While maternity pay isn’t the only factor affecting pilots and their families, it is a crucial place to start. We can see a clear need for the industry to tackle the inadequacy in maternity pay immediately and a need for a more family-friendly approach in general.

We hope that looking at this issue opens the door for better understanding of other family-friendly employment practices such as paternity, adoption and shared parental leave and hope it will be the first steps on the long road to making piloting a truly family friendly career.

So as the world marks International Day of Families, why not show your support for piloting families by signing our maternity pay petition!

For more information: 
•    Read the real life testimonials of female pilots.
•    How would going on statutory maternity pay affect you? Try BALPA’s maternity pay calculator.
•    Show your support by signing our petition.