26th July 2023

Absence policy

Initial Report

FC5241 Report Text: [Company] have released a disciplinary process for pilots reporting sick 3 times in 12 rolling months. I believe this will have a negative impact on the company’s safety. I have already experienced flying with people of weren’t fit to fly but have reported for duty as to avoid disciplinary meetings. This causes great concern for the airlines safety.

FC5251 Report Text: My Company has recently introduced a new Wellness & Absence policy. The policy is draconian and coercive.

Company Comment

The company has received a number of reports regarding the policy which has resulted in changes to the application of the policy. We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be suitable for every situation, and the changes require managers to consider individual circumstances more and exercise discretion accordingly. This aspect is particularly important in the context of aircrew and, for our pilot community, the involvement of base captains and other pilot peers is included to ensure that the responsibilities and obligations of license holders are duly considered. Their expertise and understanding of the unique requirements of flight crew members contribute to a more comprehensive evaluation of each case.

CHIRP Comment

Absence management within the airline industry is an issue of topical interest at CHIRP at the moment and we have been engaging with the CAA and a number of airlines in this respect. CHIRP thinks that the issue of flight/cabin crew absence management is something that needs to be reviewed across the industry in order to recognise that crews are in a different situation to those who work outside the aviation world because of the regulatory requirement on individuals not to operate if unfit to fly.  As such, we are aware of a UK Flight Safety Committee initiative with the CAA to look at how absence management can be better codified across the aviation community to reflect best-practice.  In fact, we majored on this topic in a recent editorial in our Air Transport FEEDBACK Edition 144 Newsletter commenting that the aim should be to produce best-practice protocols that operators can adapt to their own requirements not just for flight/cabin crews but also for other safety-critical staff such as ATC, engineers and others who must not conduct their tasks and should not be induced to work when not fit to operate (be it flying, controlling, engineering etc).