Right to fight

What
rights do employers have when staff serving in the Reserve Armed Forces ask for
time off? The Ministry of Defence’s Sabre – Supporting Britain’s Reservists and
Employers – outlines the employers’ rights. 
By Quentin Reade

As
an employer, you have a number of rights when employing Volunteer Reservists.

Training
and leave

Members
of the Volunteer Reserve Forces (VRF) have a commitment to training once a week
and on 30 other days through the year, made up of weekends and a 15-day
continuous training period. An employer has the right to turn down any request
by a reservist employee for additional paid or unpaid leave. However, many
employers realise that skills gained in VRF training will benefit their
business, and grant extra leave, paid or unpaid, for the continuous training
period.

Mobilisation

If
a reservist seeks voluntary mobilisation, you must give consent before they can
take their place. An employer is not legally obliged to release the reservist.

In
the case of compulsory mobilisation, employers have no statutory warning period
prior to an issue for mobilisation. However, the Armed Forces aim to give you
and the reservist at least three weeks warning of the date they are required to
report for mobilisation.

The
situation is different for High Readiness Reserves (HRR) and the Civil
Contingency Reaction Force (CCRF). The High Readiness Reserves are a special
category of reservists, who should normally be available to report for service
with a minimum of seven days notice. If an HRR has a regular job and works more
than two hours per week, they will require your written consent to hold HRR
status. This consent is renewed annually.  

The
Civil Contingency Reaction Force is a military rapid-reaction force formed of
volunteer reservists from all three services. The CCRF is intended for use in
the aftermath of a major terrorist attack or catastrophic natural disaster in
the UK. It will provide trained manpower to support the civil emergency
services and local regular military forces, if they are unable to cope with the
situation on their own. It can be called up at very short notice, possibly as
little as 24 hours, but it would only be mobilised for a relatively short
number of days.

In
the case of compulsory mobilisation, you have the right to seek exemption from,
or deferral of, mobilisation if it is thought that the reservist’s absence will
seriously harm the business or undertaking, or a related business, or to a
partner, proprietor or employee of that business or undertaking.

The
definition of serious harm may vary from case to case, but includes loss of
sales, markets, reputation, goodwill or other financial harm; serious
impairment of the ability to produce goods or provide services; and
demonstrable harm to the research and development of new products, services or
processes.

In
all cases, this relates to harm that cannot be addressed by the financial
awards available to employers when reservist employees are mobilised.
Applications must be made within seven days of the reservist being served with
a mobilisation notice. If the application is not made within that time,
permission to make a late application must be obtained from the Adjudication
Officer who is appointed by the Ministry of Defence (usually a serving officer
or civil servant).

An
employer dissatisfied with the Adjudication Officer’s decision retains the
right to appeal for a hearing by an independent Reserve Forces Appeal Tribunal,
through the Tribunals Secretary.

An
employer does not have the right to dismiss a worker owing to their liability
for mobilisation, or because they have been mobilised. Employers are obliged to
re-employ the reservist after the end of their tour of duty, or to provide
comparable work. This depends on the reservist applying to you for
reinstatement in due time, and on the continued unchanged existence of the
employing organisation.

You
have the right to financial assistance when an employee is mobilised. Reserve
Forces Regulations provide for three types of financial award, which employers
can apply for irrespective of whether a reservist has been compulsorily or
voluntarily mobilised.

Awards
can be made to cover expenses incurred in recruiting a temporary replacement,
ongoing administration and any retraining necessary when the reservist is
demobilised. An additional hardship award is also available.

For
more information on reservists in the workforce, read Firing on all cylinders
on page 14 in this week’s Personnel Today

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