Qatar Airways has relaxed policies which saw cabin crew sacked if they became pregnant or got married within the first five years of employment, officials from the airline said.

The restrictions, which had been criticised by UN agency the International Labour Organization (ILO), had been phased out "over the past six months", a spokeswoman for the company told the AFP news agency.

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"Our policies have evolved with the airline's growth," the spokeswoman added.

Under the new regulations, women who become pregnant are now offered temporary ground jobs and staff can also get married after notifying the company.

Qatar Airways has about 9,000 cabin crew and around three-quarters of these are female.

Speaking at a staff meeting, senior company official Rossen Dimitrov told reporters from Bloomberg that the airline would review other policies, such as curfews.

"As the airline matures, the workforce matures ... you can't turn to someone who is 35 years old and say 'No, you can't have a family, wait.' We want to retain people," Dimitrov was quoted as saying.

In June, the ILO had called on the Doha-based airline to scrap contracts concerning rules on pregnancy, saying such measures were "discriminatory".

Employment rules

The ILO had looked into the Doha-based airline's employment rules after the International Transport Workers' Federation and the International Trade Union Confederation brought the case to the UN agency.

It said the provision on pregnancy breached its 57-year-old convention against discrimination at work, which has been ratified by more than 170 countries.

However, the spokeswoman for Qatar Airways said the recent changes had been brought into place after senior management began a review of working practises last year, and not in response to international criticism.

Earlier this year Qatar Airways won the airline of the year award for the third time at the annual Skytrax world awards at the Paris air show.

Source: Al Jazeera And AFP