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At the beginning of July the Ministry of Defence published a whitepaper aimed at helping them plan their resourcing requirements when reserve forces are deployed on operations. The whitepaper made several suggestions relating to reservists’ normal employment.
The whitepaper made a commitment to provide employers with fewer than 250 staff “more notice [of when their staff will be deployed on operations] so employers are able to plan for the absences of their reservist employees.”
[Article updated 2016]
However, it did not specify what the notice period would be. Currently employers should be given at least 28 days’ notice. The MoD said they wished to work towards a situation where the MoD, rather than the reservist, would inform the employer when they were going to be deployed.
Currently there is a maximum time limit that a reservist can spend on a tour of duty (from 1st October this increases to 40 days per year and the maximum length of call-up period is increased from 9 months to 12 months), and reservists can only be mobilised once every 3 years.
The Territorial Army (now renamed as the Army Reserve), the biggest of the reserve forces, currently has 19,000 reservists and it requires 30,000 by 2018 and a total of 35,000 across all 3 Reserve services by 2020, so the Government are looking for ways to make it more attractive for Employers to employ a Reservist.
The Government recently consulted on employment protection for reservists and has responded, in this whitepaper, to this consultation by suggesting that it:
The Government are still gathering information of alleged discrimination against reservists so their first suggestion may or may not be implemented.
Reservists are already protected, under the Reserves Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985, against dismissal solely or mainly on account of any duties they have to undertake – here dismissal would be a criminal offence and protection exists irrespective of whether formal notification of mobilisation has been given to the employer.
However, at the moment, reservists cannot generally claim for unfair dismissal (including redundancy) in an employment tribunal until they have the minimum period of continuous service (2 years from April 2012). As periods of mobilisation generally do not count towards continuous employment it can take reservists longer to gain this protection.
The Government have now changed the law to make reservists exempt from this statutory qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim where the dismissal is for reason of the employee’s reservist service (so it would not apply where a reservist has been dismissed for capability or conduct, for example). And from 1st October 2014 where an employee is dismissed exclusively (or mainly) because he or she is a member of a reserve force, the normal 2-year qualifying period will not apply.
The Government published a ‘Reservist Employer ToolKit’ in October 2015 which you can read here.
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk (click here) – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.
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