THE COUNTY’S fire brigade has an eight-percent gender pay gap in favour of men and has a disproportionately white and heterosexual workforce, HR reports say.

But Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s pay gap is less than half the UK-wide figure of 17.9 per cent, and chiefs attribute this to having women as department heads, middle managers and specialists.

The report by Chief Fire Officer Rod Hammerton stresses the higher average male salary “does not arise from paying men and women differently for the same work”.

The Standards and HR Committee will also receive survey data suggesting black and minority ethnic people make up less than two per cent of its workforce, compared to seven per cent of Shropshire’s population, and representation of gay, lesbian and bisexual people could be less than a tenth of the statistical average.

There report says that in 2018, SFRS employed 557 men and 101 women.

The mean hourly salary was £14.21 for men and £13.03 for women.

The previous year, there were 610 men on £14.10 an hour and 105 women on £13.04.

The mean pay gap was eight per cent both years, while the median pay gap went from 11 per cent in 2017 to eight per cent last year.

Officer Hammerton writes: “SFRS believes the gender pay gap does not arise from paying men and women differently for the same work, but it is as a result of the roles in which they work and the salaries these roles attract, especially within the non-uniformed departments.

“There are, essentially, more males occupying higher-level positions.

“SFRS mean gender pay gap is, however, lower than the reported national average.”

Office for National Statistics figures say men were paid on average 17.9 per cent more than women in the UK in 2018.

“The lower than average mean pay gap takes into account the roles of female heads of departments and female middle managers in specialist areas such as HR, ICT and finance,” Officer Hammerton adds.

In a separate report about equality monitoring statistics, Officer Hammerton writes that, compared to the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin population it serves, SFRS has very low numbers of non-white, lesbian, gay and bisexual employees.

“BME people in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin constitute some seven per cent of the total population,” he writes.

“They make up some 1.62 per cent of the (SRFS) workforce. This amounts to nine people.

“Generally-accepted estimates put the percentage of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the general population at around seven to 10 per cent.

“Current workforce monitoring responses show a figure of 0.54 per cent. This amounts to three people, which is statistically improbable.”

He adds that the service is trying to encourage staff to accurately report their information, and the number of “unknown” or “prefer not to say” responses in surveys is falling.

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority’s Standards and HR Committee will discuss Officer Hammerton’s reports on Tuesday, March 26.