Dad’s army – coming to a workplace near you?
Poor Mr Mainwaring had lots of trouble mixing Bank work and Dad’s Army. The lines between work and war were often blurred. With the new Government idea to make up for armed forces manpower cuts by using reserve troops, once again more employers will be faced with the challenges of their employees marching about and saluting to the mirror. No but seriously, as the numbers of reservists expands, more employers will have to meet the challenges of an employee with another call on their time and energies and interests and, potentially, their life.
The Ministry of Defence has published a consultation on the future of the UK’s Reserve Forces, about how best to raise the increased numbers and capabilities of defence reservists. The consultation includes consideration of the offering to employees and also the offering to their employers. As the new reservists will usually be employees, the proposals will inevitably have an impact on their employers.
Suggestions affecting employers include:
- Financial incentives, such as tax breaks, for employers willing to employ more reserve troops.
- A kite mark for such patriotic employers.
- More notice to work before employees are sent on active service.
- Legal rights to protect employees from being treated less well because they are reservists.
Most of the training is carried out on weekends and during annual leave, although some employers do give extra leave. The government is proposing an increase in training requirements (from 35 to 40 days per year), which will, in practice, have an impact on their employers. There is present no right to time off for training and none is proposed, but in practice the increased training would have an effect on employers as inevitably more time off would be requested.
The consultation closes on 18 January 2013. If you want to give express your views then go to the MOD website and find the ‘Future Reserves 2020 Consultation.’ Watch out for the Government’s White Paper on this later in 2013. The changes are not likely to take effect for some time as the scale down in the armed forces is gradually implemented and the Government seems to be taking a long-term view of our national defence forces. But changes are on the way and, though the joys and panics of Dad’s Army are unlikely to return, employee reservists will become a common workplace consideration.
Frances Barker is an employment specialist solicitor at Blockslegal LLP. She welcomes feedback and may be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01473 230033