Reserve Forces Training & Mobilisation: Guidance

Introduction

The Reserve Forces, known as Reservists, are ordinary men and women who give up their time to train and serve alongside the Regular Forces.

“As members of the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, Army Reserve and Royal Air Force Reserves, they make up a significant element of the nation’s total defence capacity and are called upon as individuals for their specialist skills or as ready-formed units whenever required. They receive the same world-class training and develop the same skills as their Regular counterparts, which means they can carry out the same roles to the exacting high standards”.

[Source: Supporting Britain’s Reservist and Employers (SaBRE)]

The University will support staff who are members of the Reserve Forces and the following information is provided as a practical guide, for both managers and Reservist employees, on how best to manage work arrangements and relationships before, during and after periods of mobilisation.  It is important for both staff members who are Reservists and managers of staff who are Reservists to familiarise themselves with the Reserve Forces Training & Mobilisation: Guiding Principles and the related guidance.

Types of Reservists

The two main types of Reservists:

  • Volunteer Reservists: civilians recruited into any of the four Volunteer Reserve Forces (Royal Naval Reserves, Royal Marines Reserves, Army Reserve, and Royal Air Force). Reservists engage for a period of 3 years at which point they need to re-engage if they wish to remain members of the VRF.
  • Regular reservists: ex-regular servicemen who may retain a liability to be mobilised depending on how long they have served in the Armed Forces.

The Reserve Forces Act 1996 also provides for other categories, such as:

  • Full Time Reserve Service -Reservists who wish to serve full time with regulars for a predetermined period in a specific posting
  • Additional Duties Commitment - part-time service for a specified period in a particular post
  • Sponsored Reserves - These are personnel employed by a contractor to provide a service to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • High Readiness Reserves – These are Reserves, usually with a particular skill set, that are available at short notice. Before an employee joins the High Readiness Reserves (HRR), their employer’s consent is required (this consent will need to be renewed every 12 months). If the employer does not consent, the agreement to join the HRR cannot go ahead.

Reservist Commitments: Notification and Training

If a member of staff is interested in joining the Reserve Forces or is a Reservist considering renewing their Reservist commitment, it is recommended that they discuss this with their manager prior to taking any action.

Notification

Reservists are required to inform the University, via their manager, that they are a member of the Reserve Forces and to advise of the specific force they belong to.  It is necessary for Reservist employees to grant permission for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to write directly to the University to provide an ‘Employer Notification’.

This ‘Employer Notification’ letter will confirm to the University:

  • the employee’s membership of the Reserve Forces;
  • details of mobilisation obligations;
  • the rights of the Reservist employee;
  • the rights of University as an employer;
  • and details of financial assistance available if an employee is mobilised.

The MoD will also send a follow-up letter each year to confirm that the information held is still accurate.  It is the responsibility of the Reservist employee to ensure all their personal details are kept up to date on myJob.  It is the responsibility of the manager to maintain a record on myTeam of the Reservist’s training and mobilisation commitments.

IMPORTANT: If the Reservist employee is employed by the University, but also works for a partner organisation, such as the NHS, it is important that they advise the MoD of this, to enable them to provide notification to each employer. Where there is a joint contract, agreement will be required by both employers before the Reservist employee can be mobilised.

Training

Reservists are typically committed to 30-35 days training per year. At the start of each year, the Commanding Officer of the Reservist employee’s Unit will write to their employer informing them, as far as possible, of their training dates for the year.  Training tends to take place 1 evening per week, over various weekends throughout the year and one continuous 15 day training period also known as annual camp.

As Reservist employees will be expected to use their annual leave entitlement to accommodate training, they should ensure that they provide their manager with as much notice as possible, to allow for appropriate planning for their absence.  Where reasonable notice has been provided, the University will offer Reservist employees an additional 5 days paid leave of absence a year, specifically to enable them to attend their annual camp.  These additional 5 days should be recorded by the manager as "Authorised Paid Absence" within myTeam.

Mobilisation

Mobilisation is the process of calling Reservists into full time service with the Regular Forces, in order to make them available for military operations. The maximum period of mobilisation will depend on the scale and the nature of the operation and is typically no longer than 12 months.  The call-out papers for mobilisation will either be sent to the University by the Reservist’s Unit, or will be delivered in person by the Reservist to their manager.  The documentation will include the call-out date (first day of mobilisation) and the anticipated timeline. Where possible, the MoD aims to give at least 28 days’ notice of the date the Reservist employee is required to report for mobilisation, although there is no statutory requirement for a warning period prior to mobilisation.

A period of mobilisation comprises three distinct phases:

  1. medical and pre-deployment training;
  2. operational tour;
  3. post operational tour leave
  4. Appeals for Exemptions and Deferrals

In exceptional circumstances, the University can apply for exemption from or deferral of call-out and mobilisation. When applying, the University may make the case that mobilisation is considered to cause a risk to the University’s business continuity. Details of what to do are included in the call-out pack. The application must reach the Adjudication Officer within 7 days of the Reservist being served with a call-out notice.  If an unsatisfactory decision is received, the University can appeal for a hearing by an Independent Reserve Forces Tribunal. Appeals must reach the Tribunals Secretary within 5 days receipt of written notice of the decision. If the tribunal rejects the application for exemption or deferral, the University must release the Reservist for mobilisation.

Mobilisation Actions for Managers

  • Inform HR of impending mobilisation and first day of full time service to enable the appropriate adjustments to pay and benefits to be made and provide them with a copy of the call-out papers.
  • Complete the consent form included in the call-out pack and any internal paperwork regarding mobilisation.
  • Meet with the Reservist employee to discuss mobilisation, including:
    • Arrangements for the handover of work;
    • Return of any equipment;
    • Agreement of employee benefits entitlements and required actions (e.g. pay, benefits, pension arrangements etc)
    • Considering annual leave arrangements prior to and following the period of mobilisation;
    • Arrangements for keeping in touch during period of mobilised service (see point below).
  • SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employees) strongly encourages Reservists to maintain contact with their employers whilst they are mobilised. Most Reservists will have access to email during their mobilisation period, however, if this is not the case, then they can be contacted via their Unit. When planning for the Reservist’s period of mobilisation, it is important to ensure that the Reservist employee provides a contact address/email and contact details of their Unit employer support officer. It is essential that this information is exchanged to ensure that the employer is able to make necessary contact during mobilisation.

During Mobilisation

Terms and Conditions: The Reservist employee’s salary will be suspended during the period of mobilisation, however, there will be no loss to their continuity of service with the University or University service related benefits. During mobilisation, Reservist employees will put on “Special Leave”.

Pay: The MoD will assume responsibility for the Reservist’s salary for the duration of their mobilisation. They will pay a basic salary according to the Reservist’s military rank. If this basic element is less than the Reservist receives from the University, it is the Reservist’s responsibility to apply to the MoD for the difference to ensure that they suffer no loss of earnings. This is known as a Reservist Award.

Pension: If the Reservist is a member of a pension scheme, and chooses to remain in it during mobilisation, then the MoD will make the employer contributions for the period of mobilisation, as long as the Reservist employee continues to make their personal contributions.

Annual Leave: The Reservist employee will not accrue annual leave during the period of mobilisation. Reservists accrue annual leave with the MoD whilst they are in full time service. When they demobilise, Reservists are entitled to a period of post-operational leave (POL), before their return to work. During this period they will continue to be paid by the MoD.  In accordance with normal University procedures, it will be at the discretion of reservist’s manager to allow up to 5 accrued annual leave days, which are not taken by the Reservist in the current leave year, to be carried forward into the new leave year.

Dismissal/Redundancy: In line with the Reserve Forces (Safeguarding of Employment) Act 1985, a Reservist’s employment with the University cannot be terminated on the grounds of their military duties or their liability to be mobilised.  Reservist employees may be included in a redundancy pool if this is necessary due organisational change. All employees will be treated fairly and in accordance with the University’s Change Management Policy and Procedures. The University will ensure that any redundancy criteria used does not discriminate against Reservist employees on the grounds of their Reserve service or call-up liability.

Financial Assistance

The MOD will cover the Reservist’s salary and contractual benefits so that they are not disadvantaged during mobilisation and will also cover additional costs incurred by the employer as a result of the Reservist’s mobilisation. These include:

Recurring costs:

  • Overtime costs, if other employees work overtime to cover the work of the Reservist;
  • Costs of temporary replacement by the amount that such costs exceed earnings of the Reservists.

The maximum claim available is £110 per day (£40,000 per annum). Claims can be made for every normal working day that the Reservist is away on service. An application for one-off costs and recurring costs must be made within 4 weeks of the end of full time Reservist service.

One-off costs:

  • Agency fees, if a recruitment agency or employment agency is used to find a temporary replacement; or
  • Advertising costs;
  • No financial cap on claims, but any claim must be supported by relevant documentation.

Training award:

If a Reservist has to undertake additional training as a direct result of their mobilisation (routine training excluded), a claim may be made for the cost. This training must be claimed for within 8 weeks of the Reservist returning to work and the training must be commenced within 6 months of the return to work.

Demobilisation

Once a Reservist’s deployment finishes they are demobilised at a nominated demobilisation centre. The Reservist undergoes checks including a medical and a period of leave will follow. The employer will be notified of the demobilisation date and once leave has been calculated, they will be notified of the Reservist’s last day of military service. After this date, the Reservist can return to work.

Returning to Work

It is essential that the Reservist employee makes informal contact (via a letter, a meeting or a telephone call) with their manager to discuss arrangements for their return to work.

Following these discussions, the Reservist employee must provide formal written notice to the University of the agreed date of their return to work. This date should be within 6 weeks of their last day of full-time service. The Reservist must provide this notice to Human Resources no later than the third Monday after their last day of military service.  Once received, Human Resources will acknowledge receipt of this formal notification and will arrange for the appropriate adjustments to be made to the Reservist employee's pay and benefits. 

If a Reservist employee is ill or injured during a period of mobilisation, they will be treated by the MoD until they are fit to return to their duties or to be demobilised. Following demobilisation, if the Reservist employee requires further treatment, due to ill health or injury, the University’s Sickness Absence Management Policy will be applied.

The University will reinstate the Reservist employee, where possible to their former role. In the event of organisational change, the University will ensure that every effort is made to fully explore suitable alternative employment and redeployment opportunities, in accordance with the University’s Change Management Policy and Procedures.  If a Reservist is not happy with the offer of alternative employment they must write to the employer stating why there is reasonable cause for them not to accept it. If a Reservist believes that an employer’s response to their application denies their rights under the Safeguard of Employment Act 1985, an application can be made to a Reinstatement Committee for assessment. This committee will consider the Reservist's application and, if they accept it, can make an order for reinstatement and/or compensation.

Support Following Mobilisation

Managers Responsibilities

  • Schedule a return to work meeting to welcome the staff member back to the University;
  • Provide returning Reservist with an update on changes and developments in the organisation;
  • Offer specific refresher/re-training where sought/considered necessary particularly if role has evolved/changed;
  • Encourage reintegration with colleagues within the immediate team/department;
  • Consider the staff member's annual leave following the period of mobilisation (carryover or recovery);
  • Discuss any health concerns. If there is concern that a Reservist may be experiencing issues (i.e. physical / mental health) as a result of their deployment then Reservist should be encouraged to seek advice and assistance from; their Reservist Unit, their GP or the University’s Health and Wellbeing services.

Sources of Support

SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers)

Royal Navy

Army

Royal Air Force