Just as British Airways looked like it was going to come to an agreement with its cabin crew a fresh argument has erupted. The airline is now being accused of discriminating against pregnant staff by taking away their pay if they live too far away from an airport where they could work as a member of the carrier’s ground staff.

BA has rejected the claims being made by the Unite trade union saying that it makes every effort to find alternative jobs for cabin crew who are unable to fly because of pregnancy. Once a member of the crew finds out they are pregnant they are immediately banned from flying to avoid the risk of complications.

Unite claims that BA has gone back on an agreement which afforded protection to staff who found themselves grounded. Until last week, mothers-to-be would continue to receive paid leave if they live further than 50 miles from Gatwick or Heathrow. Those living closer are expected to take a job on the ground such as an administrative role or on the check-in desk.

Unite is currently looking into the legal implications of BA removing pay from pregnant women who live too far away from its UK hubs. The union’s national officer, Brendan Gold, said the removal of the maternity agreement will mean that for many female cabin crew starting a family will now not be economically viable.

A spokesman for BA said the airline had no intention of denying basic pay to pregnant staff not permitted to fly.