Do You Have Anyone In Reserve?

With the announcement today of the scaling back of the British Armed Forces and the increasing reliance on the reservists, commonly known as the Territorial Army (TA), do you know what your exposure and responsibilities are?

If you have a member of the TA working for you, then you are legally obliged to allow them time off for both training and manoeuvres. This time does not have to be paid, but will inevitably cause disruption to your business.

So what are your rights as an employer and how can you mitigate the impact?

Firstly, you only have an obligation to full and part time employees, not to contractors or freelancers.

If there is a mobilisation, i.e. the employee is called into action as a member of the TA, the employer has no choice, they have to let them go. The employer is also required to give them a job back on their return.

An employer is not legally obliged to release TA members for camps and training, although given enough notice, employers are encouraged to release staff as a better trained employee is arguably of greater value to both the TA and their employer. Any time off for these purposes could be taken from annual leave, could be unpaid, or in addition to normal annual leave entitlement. The Company’s documented and communicated policy is essential for clarity.

While on mobilisations, there is no salary cost to the employer, the employee’s ‘salary’ is met by the MOD. Benefits should remain in place such as company contributions to a pension scheme (unless they join the armed forces pension scheme) and healthcare insurance etc.

There are three elements to the mobilisation: Training, Active Service and Post Service Leave. An employee could be absent from work for 3 – 12 months.

On return from mobilisation, the employer is obliged to reinstate the employee into a role which is the same or as close as reasonably practicable to their original job.

So, now you know what your obligations are, what can you do while your employee is away?

Well, you shouldn’t fill their position permanently. Ideally aim to have someone acting up into their role or split their responsibilities among other employees. You could take on a temporary member of staff on a fixed term contract as if you are covering maternity leave. Think about what the business needs, you may bring someone in to do part of the role, you may use it as a training experience for an existing member of staff.

Communicate to others what is happening and ensure the employee and their team understand how the work will be covered in the short term.

What is your experience of reservists in the workplace? How have you dealt with absence during manoeuvres? Have you ever taken the decision not to hire someone because they are a reservist?

5 thoughts on “Do You Have Anyone In Reserve?

  1. Thank you for an informative blog. I for one had no idea what the rights of an employer are regarding TA’s, nor did I realise that if they get called into action that they would need to be able to come back to a job, although that makes perfect sense. Out of interest, not hiring someone because they are a reservist – is that not discrimination? Does someone have to declare they are a member of the TA before they take up a position in a company?

  2. Employers pay matching potroins of Social Security (sometimes called FICA) and Medicare for each person classified as an employee. The employee pays (through paycheck deductions) any Federal and State Income . Federal Income is calculated based upon the information an employee provides on his W2: Married/Single, Number of Dependents, etc. Many states have their own version of the Federal W4 and calculate State Income in a similar manner. Some states (such as Arizona) have passed a flat rate law where employees pay a certain percentage. When an employee is paid a bonus, the IRS (and many states as well) required a higher percentage to be paid on bonus wages (currently 23% for Federal, state guidelines vary).However, the bottom line is that companies only pay Unemployment and potroins of Social Security and Medicare. The employees are the only ones who pay Federal and State Withholding/Income .

    1. I quite agree.I find that is not the case in the organisation I work for, but that is down to their maaegemnnt inexperience and poor role models they have.I try, where I can, to guide them.

    1. In the interests of trust and a good ongoing relationship with your employer, I would highly recommend that you discuss your wishes with them before you apply. At the end of the day they can not stop you applying, but you are more likely to get support from them if they feel involved in the process, understand the implications for the business and the positive skills training and experience which you will be able to bring back to the organisation.

      Make sure you have done your homework first. When you dicsuss your plans with them make sure you are able to tell them the time committment you would be making and any ideas you may have for covering your work in your absence. If it is available, obtain a copy of your company’s policy on reservists – you need to be aware of what response you are likely to get.

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