In 2013 the Government announced that they planned to reduce the British army but increase the Army Reserves from 15,000 to 30,000 meaning that now, more than ever before, employers are likely to find that their workforce includes a reservist. While most employers are clear on what advantages this brings to the workplace they are unsure of what their obligations are to employees who need time off to carry out this duty.
When employees need time off to be mobilised the Ministry of Defence aims to give at least 28 days’ notice of this, a newly increased notice period though there is no legal requirement for this period of warning.
Employers have the right to appeal against time off for mobilisation, through exemptions, deferral or revocation, if the absence of the employee will cause serious harm to the business. Harm will vary depending on the business but this can include loss of sales, reputation, and lesser production of goods, development or other financial harm. You must do this within 7 days of receiving the notice of mobilisation.
If a reservist employee is mobilised then employers do not have to pay them a salary for the duration of their service. Employers also do not have to allow a Reservist to accrue holiday leave whilst they are mobilised. Some businesses will choose to do this but employers are entitled to give leave on a pro rata basis from the point of the holiday year from when reservists return to work.
Employers have the right to financial assistance when reservists are off on duty. They can claim additional salary costs from the MOD, for example if the costs of a temporary replacement are greater than the reservist’s normal salary or costs of overtime if current employees are undertaking the work in addition to their own. Also, newly introduced, is the right to financial assistance for SMEs. This is financial help of up to £500 per month for a reservist employee who is off work due to mobilisation.
Reservists will also require time off to carry out their additional training commitments, including a 15-day continuous annual training course. Employers do not have to give reservists additional leave for training, whether this is paid or unpaid, and you can require these employees to take it out of their ordinary annual holiday entitlements.
If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.