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14th August 2013

With the Government planning to increase the size of the Reserve Forces by 19,000, more employers are likely to have members of the Reserve Forces within their workforce. The Reserve Forces are not limited to the Territorial Army. It also includes the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, and Auxiliary Air Force.

Under the new plans, the Reserve Forces will become more integrated with the regular Armed Forces. They will be used in almost all military and humanitarian operations abroad and in the UK. This increase in duties will result in Reservists spending more time away form their regular jobs. Periods of deployment are expected to last for up to two 6-month periods within 3 years.

To reduce the impact on businesses, especially SMEs (employers with less than 250 employees), the Ministry of Defence has introduced a number of initiatives. These include:-

Increased Notification

Employers will now be given a minimum of 28 days’ notice for short notice operations, and at least one year’s notice of a Reservist entering the peak period of the readiness cycle (during which mobilisation is likely.)

Financial Assistance

SMEs will be given up to £500 for each month that a Reservist employee is away on a tour of duty. Administration processes are also going to be revised, making it easier for businesses to claim back costs.

Transferable Skills

Research carried out by SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) endorsed by the Chartered Management Institute, found that an employer would need to spend in excess of £8,000 on commercial civilian training to equate to the same level of development gained by an average Reservist during one year of military service.

Training plays a huge part in every Reservist’s career. Employers benefit directly from this as their Reservist employee will constantly be learning new skills and acquiring new abilities which can be put to good use in the workplace.

Much of the training Reservists are given is nationally recognised, so it is possible to integrate this into an employer’s own staff development programme for qualifications such as NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications), SCOTVEC (Scottish Vocational Education Council) and City and Guilds.

Key Points for Employers

• A Reservist has the right to take a period of required leave as long as they have given the employer a minimum of 28 days’ notice.
• An employer is not required to pay the employee during a period of leave. They will be paid by the government whilst they are deployed.
• Employers have the right to be informed when an employee joins the Reserve Forces.
• Reservists are entitled to return to the same job, on terms and conditions no less favourable than before they were deployed.
• There are plans to provide better protection against unfair dismissal for a Reservist. If the reason for dismissal is related to their service with the Reserve Forces, they will be able to bring an unfair dismissal case before an employment tribunal even if they have less than 2 years’ service.

Be Prepared

A period of 28 days’ notice does not provide an employer with much time to arrange cover for up to 6 months of absence. To minimise this impact, employers can consider developing a policy for the employment of Reservists which embraces and complies with the government’s plans.

A Reservist Policy will help to set expectations and give guidance on what will and will not happen in the event of an employee being called up for duty. It can also include an integration plan for when they return to work which will ensure the Reservist’s skills can be fully utilised.

Further Advice and Support

If you would like further information on this topic or would like assistance to develop a Reservist Policy, please contact an HR Adviser on 0845 073 0240 who will be happy to provide the necessary support.

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