Over 2,000 members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces - the Territorial Army, the Reserve Air Forces, the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Marines Reserve - face being called up to assist with security at the forthcoming Olympic Games.
The reservists will be mobilised under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, recently amended to extend situations where reservists could be called out to include ‘’urgent work of national importance’’. Previously, they could only be called out in situations of national danger, great emergency or attack on the UK, warlike operations or humanitarian and natural disasters.
We at Law at Work strongly recommend that employers should seriously consider drawing up a policy for reservists who may be called up to ensure both employers and employees are clear about their entitlements. We are happy to help you draw up a policy that suits your business and your needs.
Employees called up will be required to be away from their jobs for a tour of duty providing security services at the Olympics and Paralympics for several weeks between July and September. Businesses can face criminal penalties for dismissing a reservist because of his public duty or inducing an employee not to comply with a call-up notice. They can also be ordered to pay compensation to reservists not reinstated after a tour of duty and fined £1,000 for failing to comply with a reinstatement order.
The Ministry of Defence say reservists with ‘’supportive employers’’ will be selected to minimise disruption to business. However many employers will be wondering what it means for them.
- Can they afford to lose key employees for several weeks over the summer months?
- Must companies release employees who have been mobilised?
- What happens if they don’t?
- Who will pick up the financial tab for costs incurred such as the reservist’s wages while away?
- Does the employment contract continue?
- What about the cost of replacement staff, who pays for that?
- How do businesses apply for financial support? Are there any time limits?
- What happens when the employees are demobilised? Can they return to work as before? What if their job is no longer available?
- How often can employees be called up?
- Are there any legal consequences, criminal or civil? What penalties could employers face?
We at Law at Work have put together a question and answer bulletin on what it means for employers which is available to clients in our client area of the website under the working time section. If you want to discuss matters further, you should contact your legal manager who will be happy to assist.