Reservists called up for Olympics security: employer questions answered

Reservists are being mobilised as part of the military’s contribution to security at the London Olympics and Paralympics. What does the possibility of a reserve call-up for an employee mean for employers, particularly in sectors in which it is common for employees to be members of the reserve forces?

1 Aren’t reservists called up to fight in wars, not to provide security at sporting events?

It is normal practice for the host country’s military contribute to security at the Olympics and Paralympics. The Ministry of Defence estimates that 1,750 to 2,100 reservists will be called up.

2 Should I know if I have any staff in the reserve forces?

There is a procedure under which anyone who joins the reserve forces, or seeks to renew their commitment, must permit the Ministry of Defence to contact their employer directly to inform it of this. There are other ways for employers to encourage or require employees to declare that they are reservists, so that line managers can support them.

3 When will I hear if a reservist I employ is being called up?

The Ministry of Defence is issuing call-outs prior to reservist mobilisation further in advance than usual to allow employers to make appropriate arrangements. The Ministry of Defence has provided guidance for employers on how they should treat Olympics and Paralympics Games call-ups from the time that the notice is received to actual mobilisation, especially in relation to arranging replacement staff.

4 If a reservist I employ is called up, for how long will he or she be absent from the workplace?

The Ministry of Defence has provided guidance for employers on the likely mobilisation period for reservists, which could be up to three months.

5 I employ a reservist who has been called up for the Olympics and Paralympics Games. Can I refuse to let the reservist go?

Where a call-up notice has been issued, the employee is required by law to comply with it, but the employer can seek to have the call-up deferred or revoked. However, the Ministry of Defence has indicated that it will take a more flexible approach to calling up reservists for the Olympics and Paralympics Games.

6 If a reservist is called up, do I have to keep the job open for his or her return?

Members of the reserve forces who have been compulsorily mobilised (or who have volunteered and been accepted for mobilisation) have the right to be reinstated to their former job within six months of demobilisation.

7 Do I have to pay a reservist for the period during which he or she is away?

There is no requirement for the employer to pay the reservist during his or her absence. During this period the reservist receives service pay from the Ministry of Defence, along with a standard award to make up any difference (up to the statutory limit) between his or her service pay and normal average weekly earnings.

8 Am I entitled to any financial assistance when a reservist I employ is called up?

There is financial assistance available to the employer from the Ministry of Defence when a reservist is called up. The employer may apply to the Ministry of Defence for an award in respect of any costs incurred in replacing the employee that exceed the reservist’s earnings, although there is a set cap on the daily amount awarded.

9 I have staff whom I know are in the reserve forces, but have not been called up. Do I have any obligations towards them?

There is no obligation on an employer to grant a request for additional paid or unpaid leave for training. However, there are advantages for employers of supporting reservists (for example, improving individuals’ leadership and team-work skills) that mean that employers may wish to make special arrangements for reservists.

Full details of the financial assistance available to employers on the mobilisation of reservists are available in the XpertHR quick reference section.

For more information on reservists’ employment rights, employers can visit the SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers) website or ring the SaBRE helpline on 0800 389 5459.

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