Qantas: Australian airline relaxes gender-based uniform rules

  • Published
Qantas workers.Image source, Qantas
Image caption,
Qantas workers

Australian airline Qantas has relaxed its gender-based uniform rules, allowing male employees to wear makeup and have long hair.

Its new style guide means female employees will no longer have to wear makeup and heels while on duty.

Last year, an Australian trade union called on Qantas to move its "uniform policy into the 21st Century".

It comes after rival airlines eased their rules, with Virgin Atlantic adopting gender-neutral uniforms.

Along with being able to wear flat shoes, both women and men will be allowed to wear the same sorts of jewellery, including large watches.

The new rules also mean all employees, including pilots and flight attendants, can have long hair, if it is worn in a ponytail or bun.

"Fashions change, and so have our style guidelines over the years," Qantas said in a statement on Friday.

"We're proud of our diversity as well as bringing our guidelines up to date," it added.

The new rules also apply to employees of Qantas' budget airline Jetstar.

Imogen Sturni from the Australian Services Union (ASU), which had campaigned for Qantas to change its uniform policy, said the move was a "big win for workers".

"Some of the dress code requirements were bordering on ridiculous, such as makeup style guides and a requirement for women to wear smaller watches than men," Ms Sturni told the BBC.

However, under the new policy Qantas workers will still have to keep tattoos covered up. The rules also specify which items of uniform can be worn together, including requiring tights or stockings to be worn with skirts.

The announcement from Qantas came after some other airlines have relaxed their uniform policies.

In September, UK-based carrier Virgin Atlantic said it would take a "fluid approach" to uniforms, which allowed staff to choose what they wore to work "no matter their gender".

However, the airline later said the policy did not apply to crew on board the England football team's flight to the World Cup in Qatar, which had been criticised for its treatment of LGBT people.

At that time, Virgin said it had rolled out the measure in the UK, US and Israel, which were "more accepting of non-binary identities allowing more self-expression".

In 2019, Air New Zealand ended a ban on staff having visible tattoos, to allow "employees to express their individuality and cultural heritage".

Some New Zealanders with Maori heritage wear tattoos to mark their genealogy and heritage.