Government opens wide-ranging consultation on reservists

The Government has opened a consultation on the future of the UK’s reserve forces, entitled “Future reserves 2020: delivering the nation’s security together”. As part of the wide-ranging consultation, the Government has made a number of proposals for a “new relationship with employers”, based on principles of openness and mutual benefit, with the goal of encouraging and incentivising employers to support reservists. 

The Government wishes to:

  • improve and manage the relationship between the Ministry of Defence, employers and reservists;
  • minimise the impact of mobilisation and deployment; and
  • develop mutual benefit through reward, incentives and skills development. 

The Government proposes to introduce a “voluntary charter” for employers of reservists and includes a working example in an annex to the consultation paper. The charter is intended to recognise the benefit of employing reservists and “set the tone” for the employer’s policies regarding reservists. 

The Government states that if it sees “evidence of disadvantage” to reservists in the workplace, it will consider the possibility of “anti-discrimination legislation” to protect reservists. Although the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 provides some protection to mobilised reservists, the Government wishes to consider whether or not there is a case for extending the legislation so that all reservists - including those seeking employment and not mobilised - cannot be “deliberately disadvantaged” on account of their reserve status. 

The Government is “considering other ways to recognise the contribution that employers make” with respect to reservists, including a national “kitemark” recognition scheme intended to provide increased recognition according to the level of the employer’s engagement. It is also considering the merits of introducing a “financial reward” for employers that support reservists. 

The consultation paper states that the Government sees “particular opportunity” for the public sector and the largest employers in the private sector, which it considers have the most to gain from the employment of reservists and “may be best places to manage them within their workforces”. The Government also “wants to explore” the scope for linking apprenticeships and reserve service. 

More generally, the Government proposes that reservist mobilisation will be “more directed”, with less scope for reservists to choose when they are mobilised, but with greater certainty about the length of routine mobilisation. For most reservists, this will be for no more than one six-month deployment every five years. 

The consultation closes on 18 January 2013. The Government intends to publish a summary of responses and its final proposals in Spring 2013. 


In focus: Future reserves 2020 - a consultation paper Get more detail on the consultation paper on the website of SaBRE, the Ministry of Defence body that supports reservists.