Pilot too tired to fly wins case against Thomas Cook

A pilot who was suspended by travel company Thomas Cook after saying he was too tired to fly has won his grievance claim.

The Employment Tribunal was told that Captain Mike Simkins was suspended for six months and threatened with dismissal because he refused to fly a Boeing 767 with more than 200 passengers on board.

He told the company he was too tired because he had made three early starts in a row and on one of those days had worked an 18-hour shift. If he had continued to work as requested he would have been committing to a further 19-hour day.

He took legal action to have his suspension and threat of dismissal lifted.

The tribunal heard that Thomas Cook’s fatigue monitoring software showed that if Mr Simkins had flown his plane that day, his predicted loss of performance would have been equivalent to being four times over the legal alcohol limit for flying.

The company insisted that it had not asked him to fly while fatigued and said his claim was due to a disagreement with management.

The tribunal found in Mr Simkins favour and ordered that the suspension should be lifted.

In a statement, Thomas Cook apologised for the “hurt and distress” suffered by Mr Simkins and said that it has “robust processes to ensure all the legal limits on flying time are met”.

Please contact Paul Stevens on 020 8290 7422 if you like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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