Byline: MATTHEW HICKLEY
THOUSANDS of mothers serving in the Armed Forces could win the right to work part-time after a landmark ruling yesterday.
For years, the Army, Navy and RAF have had a blanket ban on flexible working and many women felt they had to leave when they had a family.
But an employment tribunal has ruled that Adele MacMillan, 39, suffered sex discrimination when her bosses refused to let her work three days a week after her second child was born.
Mrs MacMillan has served in the Navy for 21 years and is an operations manager.
The Equal Opportunities Comeffectiveness-mission, which backed the case, hailed the result as 'strategically important' and claimed the Forces would have to relax the blanket ban or face a flurry of similar legal challenges.
The ruling is unlikely to lead to mothers serving 'part time' aboard warships or in fighting units.
But mothers serving in combatrelated roles may now be tempted to switch jobs to take advantage of any change in policy and keep their Forces careers.
Of the 18,000 women now serving in the military, a large proportion have administrative roles.
While they may benefit from the ruling, the MOD is still expected to argue successfully that those in combat units cannot work part time without undermining fighting However, in theory, the MOD may also have to extend any new rules on part-time working to men to avoid fresh charges of sex discrimination.
Yesterday's ruling is bound to fuel fears the military is being undermined by political correctness and human rights laws.
Senior commanders have already voiced concern over the creeping influence of health and safety legislation and the ' compensation culture'.