Ryanair hits out at MPs over "false claims" about staff working conditions

Ryanair has hit back at MPs for repeating "false claims" about the company's working conditions, urging them to drop a parliamentary investigation into the firm.

The company's director of HR strategy and operations has written to MPs Frank Field and Rachel Reeves - chairs of the Work and Pensions and Business select committees - in an effort to counter claims of staff being underpaid, having to fork out for their own uniforms and incurring fees when they leave.

"We are disappointed that your committee would give credence to inaccurate content, false claims and sensationalist reportage," Ryanair's Darrell Hughes said.

The letter went on to counter allegations that staff had to pay £25 per month for their uniform in the first year of employment and stomach a £175 "administration cost", taken from their salaries, if they leave in the first 15 months.

"Ryanair cabin crew earn between 24,000 euro (£21,000) and 40,000 euro (£36,000) per annum, which is more than double the UK national minimum wage (NMW). We are not, as you reportedly claimed, 'squeezing' these well-paid crew members," Mr Hughes said

He added that it was "not necessary" to conduct NMW auditing since none of its cabin crew earn less than £5.60 to £7.50 per hour while working hours are legally limited to less than 900 flight hours and 2,000 total duty hours per year.

"We do not, cannot by law, ask our crew to work 'long hours'."

The HR director also said that training courses for cabin crew - running between 2,400 euro (£2,100) and 3,000 euro (£2,600 ) - were offered by third parties and paid for directly by students, and not factored into cabin crew pay as the airline only recruited staff once fully qualified.

As for uniforms, it said that qualified cabin crew pay £25 per month towards the cost, which is paid back on their one year anniversary at the airline.

Ryanair is headed by chief executive Michael O'Leary (Niall Carson/PA)
Ryanair is headed by chief executive Michael O'Leary (Niall Carson/PA)

"On the first anniversary of joining Ryanair, they receive their first annual uniform allowance of £307.50 (which is then paid to them every year), which fully refunds the £300 uniform contributions they make in year one, and any further uniform costs they may have in subsequent years. Ryanair crew do not pay for their uniforms, Ryanair does."

Mr Hughes also said there were no repayment of fees or allowance when contracts were terminated, though some contract agencies may charge administrative fees of 200 euro (£177) if crew members leave or resign during their probation.

Ryanair moved to discredit a former employee involved in making the claims, saying "many of them were made by a former cabin crew member who lost his Border Force security clearance for repeated breaches of UK security rules".

The airline is now calling on MPs to drop their investigation.

"We trust that your committee, now that it is aware of the factual position of these matters - namely that Ryanair crew pay significantly exceeds (by more than double) UK NMW - will disregard the many false claims made."