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Singapore Airlines pregnancy kingpin should set an example for others

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In the Hollywood tube boobies rich asian, the main character lands at Changi Airport in Singapore and rejoices that it has a butterfly garden and a movie theater. New York’s JFK airport is “just salmonella and despair,” she notes.

Changi, which opened in 1981, topped the annual Skytrax World Airport Awards for eight consecutive years before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. And if it sets a standard for airports, then flag carrier Singapore Airlines is the aerial embodiment of that modern, cosmopolitan image.

That’s why the persistent attention given to the “Singapore Girl” – a term for female cabin crew coined in a marketing campaign 50 years ago – has been increasingly questioned by critics like obsolete.

Stories abound about airline rules for female cabin crew. On discussion forums and blogs, current and former flight attendants offer advice to those preparing for interviews and training. Many discuss the need to stay below a certain body mass index level and detail how their makeup palette and even hairstyles are chosen for them, while others warn that contestants – who it is advised to be ‘humble’ and ‘elegant’ – can be rejected for having a mole on the face.

Singapore Airlines isn’t the only airline hiring attractive women, of course. But many in the city-state were shocked last month to learn that, until this year, girls in Singapore were fired when they became pregnant. In October, the airline announced that it had dropped a policy requiring female cabin crew to leave the airline after the first trimester of pregnancy.

The change means pregnant cabin crew are also granted paid maternity leave for up to 16 weeks before being automatically added to the next flight roster, bringing Singapore Airlines in line with other local employers.

The company said cabin crew “may choose to work in a temporary ground attachment” while pregnant, although they would have to apply for such roles. “All eligible cabin crew members who have applied for ground positions thus far have been offered available positions suited to their expertise,” he said.

“When you put it all together – the Singapore Girl, the fact that it was one of the last global airlines to hire female pilots, the pregnancy rules – the optics aren’t great,” said one. director of a women’s rights organization in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines did not provide a reason for the change. Advocacy groups suggest the airline, which has laid off thousands of staff during the pandemic, is desperate to retain staff to cope with the rebound in global travel. Changi is one of the busiest airports in the world and one of the major transfer hubs for Asia. Singapore Airlines reported a record quarterly operating profit of S$678 million ($493 million) this month.

The Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), a non-governmental organization based in Singapore, said in a statement that it was “surprised” that the carrier had continued the practice of forcing pregnant staff to resign as long as he did. .

“We can only speculate on the reasons [the airline] decided to make the switch this year,” he said. “It is possible that due to the pandemic the labor market is currently very tight and it makes sense not to terminate employee contracts unnecessarily.”

Employees still have to apply for a floor job with no guarantee of getting a job, says Aware. Precise grooming standards remain unclear but may also restrict opportunities for returning mothers, he added.

Maternity discrimination is against the law in Singapore, so the question arises how the government-backed airline was able to enforce the policy until 2022 despite years of criticism. It also casts a veil over the state’s efforts to combat workplace discrimination, especially against women.

Research by Aware shows that maternity discrimination is still a widespread problem in Singapore and that other employers are finding ways around existing laws. Aware says its Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Advisory reported 71 cases of maternity-related discrimination in 2021, out of a total of 88 cases of discrimination reported to them that year.

Many hope that the upcoming anti-discrimination legislation – a first for Singapore – will be more effective in eradicating these practices by closing the loopholes.

Many of the cases reviewed by Aware involve small and medium-sized businesses, not big brands such as Singapore Airlines – which is why how the carrier treats its female employees is so important. Singapore Airlines should be the high bar that other employers are held to, rather than a floor.

[email protected] / @mjruehl


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