Employers must have contingency plans in place in case key members of staff who are members of the reserve armed forces are called up if the UK joins the US in a war against Iraq.
Norman Hodges, HR director at Rank Leisure Machine Services, who is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army, urged organisations to be prepared to act in the event that the UN weapons inspectors fail to fulfil their mission in Iraq.
"Organisations need to know who is in the reserved armed forces, who is likely to be called up and who is key in these roles," he said. "It is similar to a maternity situation."
Hodges, a former paratrooper in the regular forces, said employers have the right to appeal against the call up of reservists under the Reserve Forces Act 1996 if they can prove at a tribunal hearing that an individual is key employee.
"The last time the appeals system was used in 1991, some 50 per cent of appeals were successful," said Hodges.
Employers whose staff are called up under the RFA are eligible for financial compensation from the Government.