Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is featuring in a national campaign launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to reduce pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
"The Service was really supportive of me during both pregnancies; obviously it meant I was no longer able to attend incidents but they modified my role accordingly, whilst ensuring I could be on duty on the same days as my watch to maintain contact. The first year of having a new baby is such a special one and so to be able to enjoy that without the pressure of returning to work, due to the fantastic maternity policy, was great."
Newcastle firefighter Emma Richards
The campaign '#worksforme' was launched after research suggested that around 54,000 new mothers may be forced out of their jobs in Britain each year.
The Service was asked to feature in the campaign to highlight the positive approach the organisation has to pregnancy and in particular the importance of an effective maternity policy. A video case study features in the campaign starring Newcastle firefighters, Emma and Jason Richards, who have had two children whilst being employed by the Service.
The video, which can be viewed on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website or on YouTube, highlights how the supportive maternity policy helps to retain staff, how the support starts from the top of the organisation and how the open culture helps to make staff feel valued.
The policy was based on the Fire Brigades Union model maternity policy.
Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive Peter Dartford: "For a fire and rescue service to be showcased nationally for leading the way with its approach to pregnancy and maternity in the workplace is a fantastic achievement and one that we are very proud of.
"We are still seen as a male dominated profession but we’ve worked hard to dispel this myth and promote a diverse workforce which is why we have one of the highest proportions of female firefighters in the country.
"We’ve recognised that by offering a good maternity package mums are more likely to return to work and when they do they tend to be happier and therefore much more productive than if they’d had to return before they were ready. So not only do the individuals benefit the Service does too."
Newcastle firefighter Emma Richards, mum to Katie aged four and Sophie aged two, said: "The Service was really supportive of me during both pregnancies; obviously it meant I was no longer able to attend incidents but they modified my role accordingly, whilst ensuring I could be on duty on the same days as my watch to maintain contact.
"The first year of having a new baby is such a special one and so to be able to enjoy that without the pressure of returning to work, due to the fantastic maternity policy, was great."
Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, commented: "Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is setting a great example for organisations across the country. By implementing supportive maternity policies they are retaining staff, making them feel valued and creating greater engagement and productivity. Their health and safety policies reduce risks to individuals and also support women to keep in touch with their career and their team. This type of simple but effective practice makes a real difference to women in the workplace."
The Service has been recognised for its approach to gender equality on a number of occasions. In 2012 it was the only local government organisation to feature in “The Times Top 50 Employers for Women” list and in 2013 it was recognised in the Financial Mail’s “Breaking the Mould” awards.
For more information about the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s #worksforme awareness initiative visit www.equalityhumanrights.com. The video can be viewed at http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/about-us/our-work/key-projects/managing-pregnancy-and-maternity-workplace/video-case-studies or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn0wfEzWY74