Employers have a right to manage Reservist employees according to the needs of the organisation, but this should be balanced with certain legal responsibilities regarding their liability for mobilisation and reinstatement at work afterwards.
Your rights as an employer
Reservists are encouraged to inform their employer of their Reserve Forces membership. In Great Britain, if you recruit an employee who is a Reservist - or an existing employee becomes one - the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will write to you under the 'Employer Notification' system to confirm that they are a member of the Reserve Forces. However, this formal channel of notification does not apply in Northern Ireland. The onus will be on the Reservist to inform you of their status.
Employers should check employment contracts, as these may need to be amended for new employees who are Reservists, eg if having a second job is usually against company policy.
Defence Relationship Management (DRM) supports members of the Reserve Forces and their employers. The Regional Employer Engagement Director (REED) for Northern Ireland can advise you on employment issues on Tel 028 9521 6794.
Other employer rights include:
- The MoD aims to give at least 28 days' notice of a Reservist employee's mobilisation.
- Right to appeal against mobilisation if it would harm the business.
- Financial assistance for certain costs associated with finding a replacement.
- Not paying the Reservist a salary or associated benefits - eg company car - during their mobilisation.
- Changes from 1 October 2014 give businesses financial incentives worth up to £6,000 a year per mobilised Reservist. SMEs and equivalent sized charities and partnerships are allowed to claim up to £500 for each month their Reservist employee is mobilised.
- No obligation to grant extra annual leave to allow for training commitments. Many employers recognise the benefits that such training provides and choose to grant additional leave. Search a list of employers that provide additional leave for Reservists.
Your obligations as an employer
After a Reservist returns from mobilisation, you have a legal obligation to re-employ them in their original role. If you cannot reinstate the Reservist in their original role, you must offer a suitable alternative position with the same terms and conditions of service (or as near as practicable).
You cannot dismiss a Reservist employee solely on the grounds of their Reserve Service duties or their liability to be mobilised. If you do, the employee can apply to a Reinstatement Committee, which works in a similar way to an industrial tribunal.
For more information, see reinstating or re-engaging an employee after unfair dismissal or reservist service.
Reservists can be included in the redundancy pool if this is necessary due to a downturn in business or closure of a department or branch. However, all employees should be treated the same, and redundancy criteria should not discriminate against Reservists on the grounds of their Reserve service or call-up liability.
There are some additional considerations when making a Reservist employee redundant if they have returned from mobilised service recently - ie if they are still within the protected 13, 26 or 52 week period, depending on their previous length of service.
Read more on what to expect if a Reservist employee is called up for service.