Qatar Airways eases disputed cabin crew pregnancy rules

Doha: Qatar Airways has relaxed controversial policies which saw cabin crew sacked if they became pregnant or got married within the first five years of employment, airline officials said today.

The restrictions, which had been condemned by UN agency the International Labour Organization (ILO), had been phased out “over the past six months”, a spokeswoman for the company told AFP.

“Our policies have evolved with the airline’s growth,” the spokeswoman added.

Under the new regulations, women who become pregnant are now offered temporary ground jobs and staff can also get married after notifying the company.

Other regulations which had drawn complaints from staff — such as women crew members can only be picked up from work by their father, brother or husband — are thought to remain in place, at least for the present.

Qatar Airways has about 9,000 cabin crew and around three-quarters of these are female.

In June, the ILO had called on the Doha-based airline to scrap contracts concerning rules on pregnancy, saying such measures were “discriminatory”.

The ILO had looked into the Doha-based airline’s employment rules after the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the International Trade Union Confederation brought the case to the UN agency.

It said the provision on pregnancy breached its 57-year-old convention against discrimination at work, which has been ratified by more than 170 countries.

However the spokeswoman for Qatar Airways said the recent changes had been brought into place after senior management began a review of working practices last year, and not in response to international criticism.

Earlier this year Qatar Airways won the airline of the year award for the third time at the annual Skytrax world awards at the Paris air show.