Defence Reform Act 2014

New Legislation for Reservists and their Employers: Defence Reform Act 2014

New benefits for employers and Reservists came into effect on 1 Oct 14.  The changes take on board the comments that employers made in the Reserves consultation and offer employers additional financial support, a more prominent role for Reservists within Future Force 2020 and greater job security for Reservists.  The key changes are as follows:

  • Additional allowance for SMEs. SMEs (not more than 250 employees and annual turnover not more than £25.9M) are entitled to claim up to an additional £500 a month for every month each Reservist employee is mobilised.
  • Broader powers for mobilisation:  The MoD will now be able to call out Reservists for any purpose for which Regulars may be used.  This will ensure wider opportunities for Reservists and full integration into our Armed Forces.
  • Change to period of mobilisation:  The maximum period for which Reservists may be mobilised is increasing from nine to twelve months and will cover training, deployment, and recuperation after service.
  • Better employment protection:  Reservists will be exempt from the two year qualifying period in bringing unfair dismissal claims to an employment tribunal if the reason, or primary reason, for dismissal is their being a Reservist.
  • Renaming of the Territorial Army to the Army Reserve: The Territorial Army has now been renamed the Army Reserve. Whilst the name has been in use since January of this year, the formal legal name change takes place with this legislation.

Employer obligations

In most cases, having a Reservist on your payroll will make no difference to the way you manage routine employee welfare. But as an employer you do have certain legal responsibilities regarding their liability for mobilisation and reinstatement at work afterwards.

There are two main pieces of legislation which you need to be aware of:

The Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 (SOE 85) provides Reservists who have a liability to be mobilised with two types of protection:

– Protection of employment: the Act provides protection from unfair dismissal and makes it a criminal offence for an employer to terminate a Reservist’s job without their consent solely or mainly because he or she has a liability to be mobilised; and

– Rights to reinstatement: the Act provides a legal right to reinstate the Reservist to their former job, subject to certain conditions.

The Reserve Forces Act 1996 (RFA 96), sets out the call-out powers under which Reservists can be mobilised for full-time service.

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