Employers urged to plan for war against Iraq

UK
employers must be prepared to have staff who are members of the Territorial
Army and reserve armed forces called up if there is a war on Iraq, employment
law experts Croner Consulting has warned.

Richard
Smith, corporate and training manager at Croner Consulting, said that as the
UK’s armed forces have become more professional and reduced in number, the
importance of the reserve troops has increased.

The
armed services rely on significant numbers of former full-time servicemen and
women, who may be employed but still have a ‘reserve liability’, along with
46,000 volunteer Territorial Army reservists.

Smith
said: "Many managers – and even the former full-time service people – do
not appreciate that they could be called away at only a few day’s notice and
may not be released for a period of weeks or even months."

"Individuals
and their employers will be notified by the Ministry of Defence  (MoD). Reservists will be called in for
defined periods and employers will be required to hold open their employment
until they are released. However, there are a number of things that companies
can do to minimise the impact on their businesses."

Smith
said employers should start planning now and undertake a risk analysis to
identify who might be affected.

If
these individuals are employed in business critical positions then managers
should develop contingency plans, and perhaps train understudies to take the
strain during absence – whether triggered by military action, illness or even
holidays.

"It
will not be obvious who will be called in, the decision will be based on
military skills rather than civilian expertise. For example, a company IT
manager may be a formidable tank driver; one HR manager we know has underwater
expertise of which his employer could well be ignorant," said Smith.

By Ben Willmott

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