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British Airways Flight Attendant Who Suffered Miscarriage Was Placed in a Sickness Management Programme That Can Lead to Termination

British Airways Flight Attendant Who Suffered Miscarriage Was Placed in a Sickness Management Programme That Can Lead to Termination

A British Airways flight attendant who had to take time off work after suffering a miscarriage was reportedly told that her sickness would be classed as ‘elective surgery’ just like a nose job or breast augmentation and, as such, would be managed under the airline’s sickness management policy, it has been alleged.

The airline denies that a miscarriage is officially classed as elective surgery, but that’s allegedly what one bereaved flight attendant was told, according to the union, which represents the majority of cabin crew at British Airways.

Under BA’s sickness management policy, taking too much sick leave within a specified timeframe can lead to disciplinary action and, eventually, dismissal but absences can be excluded or ‘discounted’ at the discretion of airline managers.

The BASSA union has slammed British Airways over the way it interprets its own policy, claiming that sick crew have been “victimised” and “mismanaged” and that a department that oversees crew welfare has a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to absences.

In other cases, grieving crew members who requested time off work to attend a close family member’s funeral have been asked to supply a copy of the order of service as proof, while others have allegedly been asked to hand over highly personal medical documents to prove that a parent has just been diagnosed with cancer.

Even relatively common illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhoea now require ‘proof’ according to the union. These types of illnesses used to be ‘discounted’ because, as food handlers, cabin crew aren’t permitted to attend work when they suffer from a gastrointestinal sickness.

“We have had instances where crew suffering from declared mental health issues, have found themselves in a disciplinary process, while still sick and receiving delicate medical care,” a recent memo from the union alleged.

“Crew have been sacked with the minimum of deliberation and a proper, thorough investigation,” the memo continued.

In response to the “unacceptable” way that its members are being treated, the union says it is preparing to hold an industrial action ballot which would fall short of strike action and which wouldn’t be designed to ground flights or impact passengers.

If industrial action is approved, however, the union warns that the implementation of important internal policies would be delayed.

In a statement, a spokesperson for British Airways said the airline continues to “offer to meet with the trade unions to hear their concerns and work together to find a solution”.

The airline added that it takes the well-being of its employees very seriously and that there is no requirement for crew members to prove they have suffered from vomiting or diarrhoea.

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