The real life stories

Here you can find some real life testimonies from real pilots who have faced the stark reality of inadequate maternity package, and how this can have a real impact on when and if to start a family.

Pilot A

Following a recent routine appointment, my GP told me she suspected I was pregnant, and I was referred for an ultrasound. In the week between the shock announcement and the scan, my boyfriend and I started planning what we would/could do. We were excited, and very much want children at some stage, but hadn’t planned on it happening so soon! However, upon researching maternity pay, we were horrified to discover we would have to move out of the home we are renting, if I were to have the time off after pregnancy that we desired.

Ultimately we found ourselves debating whether it would be better to keep the baby and move out of the home we have just settled in to, desperately saving every penny we could in the nex nine months and relying on help from parents or have an abortion and spend a few years figuring out a financial plan that would enable us to keep our home, remain financially independent and raise a family with the time off from work we both desire.

Fortunately, the scan proved it was a false alarm. Nevertheless, many tears were shed, and I still don’t know what the best thing to do would be: lose our home and deal with a 90% pay cut, or terminate the pregnancy. An improvement to the maternity package could prevent others from facing such a situation in future.

Pilot B

I’m about to return to work after having my first child. When I joined the airline my husband and I realised that starting a family would need to wait until a substantial amount of money could be saved to cover my earnings lost during maternity leave. Between us we saved over £15,000 to ensure I could take the full year off with our son.

We’re now starting to look to the future and unfortunately will need to start the process of saving again before even thinking about having another child. The extreme drop in pay to statutory maternity pay has been a barrier to us extending our family when we wanted to. It has added a lot of pressure to our home situation and changed the path of many of our life decisions.

I went to an all-girls school and despite having no encouragement from them decided to follow my dream of becoming a pilot. I went back and spoke to a few students before I was pregnant to tell them how much I enjoyed my job. If I went back again I would definitely still say the same but would have to answer honestly if they asked about family life. The current maternity package does not encourage women into aviation and in my case is stopping me from having the freedom to start a family when I am ready.

Pilot C

I joined the airline on a cadet scheme. To finance my training, I took out a £90,000 loan (to cover a training bond of £84,000 plus living expenses for two to three years). My monthly repayments are currently £1,062, and this could go up as it varies with the Bank of England base rate (it previously peaked at £1,350).

I am fortunate that the cadet scheme includes a monthly training bond repayment that covers most of my loan. I believe that this payment is based on continued employment with BA and would therefore continue through maternity. However, my airline only refunds the basic training bond cost, excluding living expenses and interest. This will leave me with approximately a £20,000 shortfall, and nearly two years of loan repayments not met by the airline, very affordable in full-time employment. However, the statutory maternity provision is less than half my loan repayment. As a result, despite being on the official training scheme, I could end up nearly £600-850 per month in deficit (before rent/bills/ childcare) should I take maternity leave during that time. This is simply unaffordable, and I don’t believe is adequate recognition that pilots incur significant financial penalties in order to obtain a licence, and will still be feeling the effects nearly 10 years later.

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The real life stories

Read real stories from women pilots and their experiences with maternity pay.

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Download a PDF of information about statutory material pay and what Balpa proposes

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