Tags: FBU

UK firefighters call for 12-month maternity pay to protect mothers and babies

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Fire Brigades Union demands full maternity pay for a year, citing health concerns

In a significant move, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has advocated for twelve months of maternity leave on full pay for firefighters.

This proposal has been informed by research findings, suggesting that exposure to firefighting contaminants can detrimentally affect the health of pregnant firefighters, foetuses and babies.

Current maternity pay policies put financial pressure on mothers

In a letter submitted to the Local Government Association, the National Women’s Committee of the FBU highlighted that numerous women feel compelled to resume firefighting duties prematurely when their pay is reduced by half, making extended maternity leave unaffordable.

Despite the physically rigorous nature of their work and the associated exposure to harmful fire contaminants, the existing maternity pay policy for firefighters only provides 90% of the usual salary for the initial 6 weeks.

This is followed by a further decrease to 50% pay for 12 weeks, and subsequently, the statutory maternity pay. This policy is set out as the national standard in the Grey book.

There are, however, fire and rescue services that offer more generous maternity pay packages, resulting in an uneven distribution of benefits based on geographic location.

For instance, Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service provides full pay for 26 weeks of maternity leave.

Fire service employers are now reviewing the maternity pay issue

This matter has now been put forth to fire service employers who have acknowledged the problem and have pledged to respond in a timely manner.

Ben Selby, FBU assistant general secretary, commented on the situation: “We need the best possible national maternity provision to support new mothers in the fire service instead of them being punished with a pay cut.

“This injustice is a health issue, with firefighters facing occupational health risks for themselves, foetuses, and new-borns due to exposure to contaminants.

“Employers should be doing everything in their power to ensure that the material support is there, so that nobody is forced to choose between working as a firefighter and becoming a parent.

“Proper maternity pay is essential for building an equal, supportive fire service which values and protects the health of pregnant staff and new parents.”

Robyn Richardson, acting secretary of the FBU National Women’s Committee, also added: “No-one should have to choose between protecting their salary and having a baby. Many firefighters struggle to make ends meet on half pay, forcing them to return to work far sooner than they should have to.

“Women have been raising the need for proper maternity provision for decades: it is vital to building a supportive, inclusive workplace. The fire service can and must do better.”

IFSJ Comment

This is a crucial development in the fight for better maternity rights within the fire and rescue services.

Ensuring the health and well-being of our brave firefighters, and their children, should be of paramount importance.

By offering a year of full maternity pay, we can alleviate some of the financial pressure on new mothers and help to safeguard their health and that of their newborns.

About the Fire Brigades Union

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is a trade union in the United Kingdom for wholetime Firefighters, Retained Duty System and Volunteer Firefighters, as well as Control Staff.

Since its inception in 1918, the FBU has been committed to representing the interests of its members, championing better health and safety provisions, pay, and working conditions.

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