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Following a consultation on the future of the UK's Reserve Forces (previously known as the Territorial Army), the Government announced its plans to increase the rights of employees who are part of the Reserve Forces in a bid to increase their numbers.
At an already difficult and challenging economic time for employers, the aim of the proposals are to "make employing reservists easier, more attractive and provide appropriate recognition of the contribution those employers make" by increasing obligations on employees. It is proposed that this will be achieved by reviewing the financial assistance provided to employers so that small businesses will receive a flat rate of £500 per month for each reservist who is away on deployment. It is hoped that this will help to ease the associated financial burden on businesses that employing reservists brings.
In reality however, a small business who loses a key member of staff for extended periods of time is likely to suffer both financially and operationally. In addition consideration is also being given to encourage fairer recruitment practices by potentially legislating to provide protection from discrimination for reservists.
The Government is also planning to legislate so that it will be unfair (regardless of length of service) to dismiss an employee for reasons relating to their Reserve service. There will also be a complete overhaul of the package offered to Reservists to try and attract more and better recruits, with benefits including better military pensions and additional paid leave for training.
There is no clear indication at this time as to when these changes will be implemented. However it will be an interesting time for both employers and employees to see whether in practice, the proposals have any impact and whether this will be for the better.
Julie Edmonds, Associate and Pam Loch, Managing Partner of niche employment law practice, Loch Associates Employment Lawyers and Managing Director of HR Advise Me Limited.
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