Whilst there is strong support amongst employers for Reservists and recognition of the skills they bring to the workplace, for many small businesses employing a Reservist can bring with it challenges as well, not least if the employee is mobilised for full-time service. If you employ a Reservist or may do so in the future, there are several things which you should be aware of: The MoD’s ‘Employer Notification’ system means that you should normally be informed if you employ a member of the Reserve Forces or if an existing employee joins the Reserve Forces. It is a criminal offence to dismiss an employee because he or she is, or has a liability to be, mobilised because they are a Reservist. Reservists typically train on one evening per week and about 30 full days each year, although this can vary slightly. The full days are made up of a number of weekends plus an annual training period of 15 days’ continuous duty. Many employers provide additional time off (paid or unpaid) to enable employees to attend this fortnight of training but you are under no obligation to do so. There is a possibility your Reservist employee may be mobilised. This is the process of calling Reservists into full-time service with the Regular Forces. Since January 2003, nearly 17,000 Reservists have been mobilised for full-time service, almost all to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. Mobilisation is compulsory, however if operational requirements allow then the needs of the employer are taken into account with the timing of a call up. Once the decision has been taken to mobilise a Reservist they will receive their mobilisation papers along with a letter for you. This letter will set out the date and possible duration of mobilisation and your statutory rights and obligations as an employer. There is no statutory requirement for a warning period prior to mobilisation. However, in most circumstances you and your employee should receive at least four weeks’ warning (and it will often be much more). Mobilisation periods currently range from three months to a maximum of 12 months. If your employee is going to be mobilised, you are entitled to seek exemption from, or deferral of, mobilisation if the absence of the employee will cause serious harm to your business. The application needs to be made within seven days of the call-up notice being issued and can be made irrespective of the wishes of the Reservist concerned. Whilst your employee is mobilised, they are paid for their services by the Armed Forces. They will be paid at their civilian rate if it is lower than their normal military rate, so there is no need for you to make up any difference. You can also claim back one-off costs (such as advertising for a replacement) and up to £110 per day of the mobilisation for recurring costs (such as paying additional overtime to existing staff). When your employee is demobilised, you are legally required to give them a job back. Reservists have the right to return to the same type of job they were doing previously and with terms and conditions no less favourable. About the author If you would like more information about the benefits, rights and obligations associated with employing a Reservist contact SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers on 0800 389 5459 or at www.sabre.mod.uk
Whilst there is strong support amongst employers for Reservists and recognition of the skills they bring to the workplace, for many small businesses employing a Reservist can bring with it challenges as well, not least if the employee is mobilised for full-time service. If you employ a Reservist or may do so in the future, there are several things which you should be aware of.