A UK employer has been fined for dismissing a worker in the Reserve Forces who was called up to fight in Iraq – the first case of its kind.
Under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985, employers are required to take back former staff once they have completed tours of duty.
Kidderminster Magistrates Court ordered Randles Garages to pay a fine of £750 and compensation of £986 after it dismissed Territorial Army lance corporal Neil Wright.
Wright was deployed to Iraq in April 2005, where he served with the Kings Royal Hussars. However, when he returned to the UK in November last year, he was told he could not go back to his old job.
The case, brought by the Crown Prosecution Service after negotiations with his employer broke down, was the first to be brought under the legislation.
However, 27 other reservists have applied to employment tribunals claiming they have had difficulties returning to employment after combat duty.
A spokesman from Sabre, which offers support and advice to employers with reservist staff, denied the low level of payouts would encourage other employers to disregard their responsibilities.
“The majority of employers don’t want to break the law; they want to know where they stand,” he said. “Now their obligations have been made clear.”