If a Reservist employee is called up for service
Reservists make valuable contributions as civilian employees, and are a vital part of the UK's Armed Forces.
This guide explains how Reservists can be mobilised for full-time service with the Armed Forces. It covers call-out procedures and how you can appeal against a Reservist's mobilisation if you feel it would damage your business.
There is also information about a Reservist's salary, holiday and pension arrangements and financial assistance for employers. It also details the demobilisation procedure and return to work after mobilisation process.
Reservists: mobilisation and initial call-out procedure
The call-up of Reservists into full-time service alongside the regular Armed Forces is referred to as 'mobilisation'. Reservists usually serve abroad but can also be deployed in the UK, eg during a national emergency.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) chooses Reservists for service using the 'intelligent selection' process. This is based on Reservists' skills and experience, personal and employment circumstances.
Initial call-out procedure
The MoD tells each Reservist when and where to report for duty and pre-mobilisation training. Reservists should tell you as soon as they get their call-out notice.
Notice period for mobilisation
The MoD aims to provide 28 days' notice but there is no legal minimum notice period.
High Readiness Reserves (HRR). HRR are members of any of the Reserve Forces who have specialist skills and who accept an increased liability for call out (under Part 4 of RFA 96). HRR meets the need for skills that might be in short supply in Regular and Reserve Forces and which might be needed early in a crisis. A call-out order is not required to mobilise HRR.
Also read more on types of Reservists.
Employer information packs
The MoD provides a call-out pack to each employer of a mobilised Reservist. This will either be sent directly to you as their employer, or be included in the Reservist pack, which your employee should hand to you. This gives you the date the Reservist should report for training and includes information on:
- possible length of the Reservist's duty
- your statutory rights and obligations as an employer - eg regarding pay, pensions and reinstatement after mobilisation
- possible financial assistance for employers
For more information, see your rights and responsibilities as a Reservist employer.
Exemptions and deferrals
As an employer, you have the right to appeal against a Reservist's call-up if you feel it would damage the business, for example if there was:
- a risk of financial harm, eg loss of sales, markets or reputation
- reduced ability to produce goods or provide services
- an effect on research and development of new products, services or processes
If you want to make an exemption or deferral application for your employee, you should do so within seven days of the mobilisation notice being issued. If this is not possible, you should ask the Adjudication Officer appointed by the MoD for permission to make a late deferral application. All mobilisations are compulsory and if you or your Reservist does not make an appeal in the given timeframe, the Reservist will be required to report for duty on the date specified in the call-out notice.
Defence Relationship Management (DRM) is an organisation that supports members of the Reserve Forces and their employers through Regional Employer Engagement Directors. The Regional Employer Engagement Director (REED) for Northern Ireland, Athene Gordon, can be contacted on Tel 028 9521 6794. Read DRM's guidance on how you can apply for exemption or deferral of a Reservist's mobilisation.
Holiday accrual during mobilisation
You do not have to allow Reservist employees to accrue leave while mobilised as they accrue leave with the MoD. When they return to work, you are entitled to grant them leave pro rata from the date they return to the end of the calendar year. Read more on how to know how much holiday to give your staff.
How long will the Reservist be away for?
When the Reservist reports for a period of mobilisation, they will undergo a series of checks and tests, including a medical. Depending on the individual, this can last from a matter of days to two weeks. Once the Reservist is accepted into service they will join their unit and undergo further pre-deployment training before they are deployed on operations.
The length of mobilisation will vary according to military needs, but can be up to duration of 12 months.
While Reservists are serving with the Armed Forces, civilian employers can help maintain their morale by sending them updates on the organisation, eg office newsletters or emails about the company. This will also help them reintegrate with the organisation when they return.
Financial and pension arrangements for mobilised Reservists
You can claim for financial assistance from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) while your Reservist employees are away. This includes claims for:
- Advertising or agency fees for recruiting a replacement. These are uncapped.
- The extra cost over and above their salary for paying a temporary replacement while they are mobilised. This can be up to £110 per day or around £40,000 per annum.
- Retraining for the Reservists on their return, if appropriate.
Additional financial support for employers
Changes that came into effect on 1 October 2014 mean SMEs and equivalent sized charities and partnerships will be allowed to claim up to £500 for each month their Reservist employee is mobilised.
You can also claim for:
- up to five days handover costs before the employee is mobilised and up to five days takeover costs after they return to work
- 75 per cent of the costs up to a maximum of £300 for purchasing specialist clothing for a person who replaces a mobilised Reservist
- training costs (capped at £2000) for essential training to enable a replacement to fulfil a mobilised Reservist's role during mobilisation
During mobilisation, you will not have to pay the Reservist's normal salary or any company benefits that they would usually receive, such as a company car or contributions to a pension scheme.
When a Reservist is mobilised, the MoD provides an information pack to all relevant employers. This will either be sent directly to you as their employer, or be included in the Reservist pack, which your employee should hand to you. This explains how you can claim for financial assistance. You should include payroll data in your claim, eg the Reservist's National Insurance number, staff number and written evidence of their earnings.
You should make your claim within four weeks of the date of the Reservist's last day of full-time service. After this, you should ask permission from the MoD Adjudication Officer to make a late claim. Find out how to make a claim for financial assistance.
Appealing against an Adjudication Officer's decision
If you are dissatisfied with an Adjudication Officer's decision, you can appeal to the Reserve Forces Appeals Tribunal. You must make your appeal within five days of the Adjudication Officer's original decision.
The tribunals are arranged by the Department of Justice and are independent of the MoD. They comprise a legally qualified chairperson and two lay members. The hearings are informal and normally held in local industrial tribunal offices.
Pension arrangements during mobilisation
During mobilisation, Reservists can choose to continue paying contributions to their company pension scheme or pay into one of the Armed Forces' own pension scheme options.
The MoD will pay the employer's contributions if a Reservist continues paying into an occupational pension scheme, deducting these contributions from the Reservist's military wages. This arrangement does not apply to personal pensions.
Protection of a Reservist's employment
After their mobilisation ends, Reservists are debriefed and assessed before being given post-mobilisation leave.
Following the procedure for return to work, and to comply with legislation, the Reservist should formally write to you in the period beginning after the last day of their full-time service and ending with the third Monday after their full-time service ends, to request reinstatement and agree a return-to-work date.
It is also encouraged that they should contact you informally, ideally in person, to discuss the options for a return to work date. They will still need to make the formal application in writing as required by legislation.
You have a legal duty to reinstate your Reservist employee in the same or a similar position for a minimum period - eg 13, 26 or 52 weeks, depending on their length of employment before mobilisation.
You can include Reservists in a redundancy pool if necessary, provided you do not discriminate against them on the grounds of their mobilisation. 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.
A Reservist's employment status whilst mobilised is set out within the Employment Rights Act. Mobilisation does not break continuity of service however, in terms of any calculations based on reckonable service, the period of mobilisation would not be included by virtue of the Act.
You can claim financial assistance if a Reservist needs training or re-training as a direct result of their mobilisation.
Aftercare of demobilised Reservists
Defence Relationship Management (DRM) is an organisation that supports members of the Reserve Forces and their employers through Regional Employer Engagement Directors. The Regional Employer Engagement Director (REED) for Northern Ireland, Athene Gordon, can be contacted on Tel 028 9521 6794.
DRM can help employers and Reservist employees find support and advice. For advice on how to spot symptoms of post-operational stress - eg depression or irritability - as well as contacts with service medical, pastoral and welfare staff, you should contact your employee's unit Welfare Officer.
You can help demobilised Reservists reintegrate into the business by offering retraining, if necessary. You can also discuss with Reservists how to make use of any new skills they have acquired during their mobilisation.
Reservists can acquire many skills while they are mobilised: read about the benefits of employing Reservists.