This month, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has issued a new consultation on military reservists. The consultation, entitled ‘Future Reserves 2020: Delivering the Nation’s Security Together’, proposes a new relationship between reservists, employers and government. One of the key aims of the Government’s proposals under the consultation is to encourage and incentivise employers to support reservists.
As part of the ‘new relationship’ with employers, the Government’s aim is to generate further transparency whereby employers are given more certainty about the timing of possible mobilisations and more notice of when they will occur.
A substantial focus of the consultation is to ensure the protection of current and future reservists. It is therefore proposed that employer’s incorporate the Government’s ‘voluntary charter’ for employers, which sets out a commitment to support reservists and not disadvantage them in employment. A working example of the proposed charter is included at Annex C of the consultation document.
The consultation makes it clear that the Government “will also consider the possibility of anti-discrimination legislation if [they] see evidence of disadvantage to the reservist in the workplace”. Although there is already legislation in place to protect reservists (namely, the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985), this only applies to mobilised reservists and does not protect those yet to be mobilised and seeking employment.
The Government is also considering introducing a new national ‘kitemark’ type recognition scheme, which would award recognition to employers under a tiered system based on the level of the employer’s engagement.
As part of this scheme, supportive employers will also be offered opportunities to attend national and regional military events, such as Trooping the Colour or the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
The merits of offering employers a financial award for supporting reserve service is also being considered.
The consultation will run until 18 January 2013, following which a White Paper setting out details of the new relationship will be published in spring 2013.
A copy of the consultation paper can be found here.