Categories: Featured News

UK firefighters reveal a significant disparity in maternity pay

Share this content


Discrepancies in maternity pay among UK firefighters

A recent report published by the Fire Brigades Union has highlighted the discrepancies in maternity pay provisions within the fire service.

The findings indicate that women firefighters face vast inequalities in their maternity pay, with disparities reaching up to £15,000 depending on their location.

For instance, a firefighter based in Cornwall receives £15,000 less in maternity pay compared to their counterpart in Staffordshire.

These disparities were brought to light through FOI requests, as well as other information gathered from fire and rescue services across England.

National standards versus local variations in maternity pay

The national standards for maternity pay in the fire service currently stand at 90% pay for the first six weeks.

This is followed by 50% pay for the next 12 weeks, and then statutory maternity pay.

These minimum standards have created a ‘postcode lottery’ in maternity pay.

However, some services have been able to provide better maternity provisions, primarily due to campaigns by the FBU.

The impact of current maternity provisions and the call for equality

The report also provides several insights from case studies. One firefighter stated: “When I was pregnant, I had one contract terminated when I told [the service], and my temporary promotion ended all because I was pregnant. This was made clear in an email sent to me.”

Another shared: “Honestly, working for a professional government body, I wouldn’t have believed I would ever end up in this situation. Both my maternity leaves have been tainted with stress and anxiety due to our absolutely appalling maternity pay.”

Ben Selby, Fire Brigades Union assistant general secretary, expressed his concerns by stating: “It cannot be right that a new mother in Cornwall gets £15,000 less than a new mother in Staffordshire. This system is unfair and systematically undervalues women firefighters.

“Every year, women are forced to return to work too early – to a job that is physically and psychologically stressful – because their maternity leave is so bad. Others have experienced serious economic hardship.”

The report cites research highlighting the dangers of exposure to contaminants during firefighting on the health of pregnant firefighters and their offspring.

In response to these findings, the report suggests that all UK firefighters should receive twelve months of maternity leave on full pay.

This recommendation is supported by the union, which believes that improving maternity and caring provisions will boost the recruitment and retention of women in the fire and rescue service.

IFSJ Comment

The disparity in maternity pay among UK firefighters sheds light on broader issues within the fire and rescue service.

The recruitment and retention of women in this vital sector are directly affected by such inequalities.

Addressing these disparities is not just about ensuring financial fairness; it’s about safeguarding the health of pregnant firefighters and their children.

In a profession that demands physical and psychological resilience, it is imperative to offer robust support structures, especially for those starting families.

With discussions around maternity provisions now in the spotlight, it’s an opportunity for the industry to review and enhance its policies, ensuring that all firefighters, regardless of their gender or location, receive equitable treatment.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox