Changes to Reserve Forces Legislation

Whilst the Act may not appear at first glance to be of huge importance to employers, in fact it introduces employment law changes which may cause unwary employers some problems.

As of 5th September the Secretary of State is empowered to make regulations providing for “incentive payments” to an employer whose employee is or has taken relevant reserve force activities.

The new regulations have just been published and will come into force on 1st October. Small and medium employers will be able to claim up to £500 per month for each full month that an employee is absent from work. As always there are rules about when and how a claim must be made. A claim can also be made by the business partners of a reservist.

From 1st October, the Army Reserve will be renamed the Regular Reserve and the Territorial Army will become the Army Reserve. No doubt there is a good reason.

The length of time a reservist can be called up for operations other than ’warlike operations’ will be increased to 12 months and the nature of tasks for which a reservist can be called up for will be expanded so that the reserve can be used for any task which the regular forces could be required to undertake.

In addition, claims for unfair dismissal where the reason for dismissal is or is connected with the employee’s membership of a reserve force will not be subject to a qualifying period of employment. In other words an employee who is dismissed for a reason connected with their membership of a reserve force will be able to bring a claim for unfair dismissal from day one of the their employment. Employers will therefore need to be careful and cannot just assume that an employee can safely be dismissed because they have been employed for less than 2 years.

If you would like further advice about any of these issues, please contact either Ian Pinder by email or by telephone on 01227 813400.