Centrica HR chief calls for employers to show support for UK’s Territorial Army

A leading employer of reservists has appealed to fellow HR professionals to fully support workers serving with the Territorial Army (TA).

The plea follows employee concerns that TA soldiers have been reluctant to tell their employer of their duties as reservists for fear of discrimination both before and during employment.

There are currently 35,000 part-time soldiers, making up 4% of the UK’s total Army manpower in Iraq and 8% in Afghanistan. Reservists can be mobilised for a maximum of 12 months in three years, and six have died in action since 2003.

Speaking on behalf of TA employers, Anne Minto, group HR director at energy company Centrica, said supporting reservists in the workplace could be a challenge, but was advantageous in the long-term.

“As an employer, we recognise the skills and experience that service in the reserve forces can bring to our employees, particularly in areas such as leadership, teamwork and thinking under pressure,” she told Personnel Today.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at manufacturers’ organisation the EEF, who sits on the National Employer Advisory Board, said: “We would encourage reservists to speak to their employer regarding their status. Most employers do support the work reservists do and already have policies in place for when they are away.”

Minto added that although some smaller businesses might find it difficult to directly replace someone called up for several months, they could access advice and support through the support organisation SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers).

A report by Public Accounts Committee last year said that reservists were now being used at “unprecedented levels”. But it warned that the Reserve Forces were under-staffed, with some were not passing basic fitness tests.

This year the TA is celebrating its 100th anniversary by launching a campaign to acknowledge the contribution of part-time soldiers.

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