FIRE chiefs have revealed that men employed by Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service earn on average £7.19 more per hour than women.

The figures, released as part of the Gender Pay Gap Report 2018, show a 32.2% pay gap across the service.

This is based on a mean male hourly rate of £22.32 and mean female hourly rate of £15.13.

While the median gender pay gap figure is 29.4% which is based on a median male hourly pay rate of £19.71 and a median female hourly rate of £13.91.

Assistant chief fire officer Keith Chance explained at today’s (April 24) audit and standards committee that the disparity in pay was down to the current low number of female firefighters.

He added that the pay gap report differed from the equal pay audit which measures whether men and women in the same employment, performing equal work, with equal responsibilities, receive equal pay.

“The equal pay audit measures whether men and women in the same employment get the same pay,” he said.

“The analysis of the report shows that the mean gender pay gap is 32.2% and the median pay gap is 29.4%.

“The causes for that pay gap are generally to do with the current low number of female employees in uniform roles.

“In particular in middle and senior management positions.”

Mr Chance explained that the service was looking to recruit more women into management positions to address the imbalance.

“Work is being completed on the cultural review and the new values for the service which will be published in May this year which will support that work,” he added.

“The service is committed to reviewing the gender pay gap and reducing that gap where possible.”

Labour councillor Pat Agar said the pay gap was a structural and institutionalised problem.

“It was quite useful that you made the point about the gender pay gap being different from equal pay.

“When you start to talk about sectoral issues, such as, for example there are some jobs which are mostly done by women and others by men.

“Like most nurses happen to be women and it happens that most construction workers are blokes.

“So, in your service, you do have this sectoral issue don’t you? How long do you think it will take to equalise it?”

Mr Chance replied: “Councillor Agar is right, we do have a number of men in these positions.

“In answer to how long it is going to balance that, I don’t know.

“However, we are working as a service and we have just had our first female middle manager start as a station commander and that is a landmark for the service.

“We’ve just concluded a recruitment process where a number of females have been successful too.

“Alongside attracting more females into the uniform roles, we are actually working to attract more males to the non-uniform roles which would help us balance that.”

Coun Agar replied: “Thanks, I look forward to this force doing the same as some of the London forces in having women close to the top.”