As part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 situation, armed forces reservist mobilisation could be necessary to support the emergency services and the vulnerable. Mike Herdman explains how you can claim financial support if you're employing a reservist who is called to action.
Given the current circumstances, reservist mobilisation could help the government response. As such, it may be prudent for employers to know which of their employees are reservists and scenario- and succession-plan for that eventuality. It's important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities when a reservist is called up and when they return to work..
How the employer is notified of reservist mobilisation
Should a reservist be mobilised, they will normally get 28 days' notice. It will then be up to the reservists to let their employer know as soon as possible and then employer will subsequently be sent information from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) . However, due to the current circumstances the notice period could well be shortened substantially.
Apply for a delay or cancellation in reservist mobilisation
Can a reservist decline mobilisation? If you feel that a reservise being mobilised will seriously harm your business, you can apply for a delay or cancellation. The reservist can also apply if they believe that the mobilisation will have a severe impact on their day-to-day lives (if they are carers or in full-time education, for example). This must be applied for within seven days of receiving the mobilisation notice, so any discussions between you and your employee must be prompt.
Financial support for salary and benefits
While your employee is mobilised, you don't need to provide any army reserve pay or their normal salary, pension contributions or benefits, as these will be provided by the MOD in the same amounts and circumstances as their regular employment. You can re-assure your employee on this.
Other reservist mobilisation support available to employers
You can also claim financial support from the MOD to cover:
The cost of a temporary replacement in the case of reservist mobilisation, if paid more than the reservist's salary (up to £110 per day)
Advertising costs and agency fees for finding a replacement
A period of handover and takeover (ie, five days before and after the mobilisation)
75% towards the cost of any specialist clothing required for the replacement (up to £300)
Training costs for the replacement (up to £2,000)
Overtime costs if other employees cover the work
Costs for any retraining the reservist may need to undertake to settle back into their role when they return to work
Small- and medium-sized enterprises may also claim an additional £500 per month as a ‘employer incentive payment’, if the following applies:
Annual turnover of no more than £25.9 million in the 12 months prior to the reservist being mobilised
No more than 250 employees or partners at the date of mobilisation
You can't, however, claim for any loss in profits, turnover or goodwill as a result of the mobilisation. You also can't claim for the cost of any salary or pension contributions if you choose to keep paying to the reservist.
An employer will need to make some changes in their payroll software if a reservist is mobilised, depending on how long the reservist will be mobilised for. We won't go into further details here, as it's not a simple process, but get in touch if you'd like more information on this.
Returning to work after service
Reservists are given a defined period of leave after their service is complete. During this period you can't ask a reservist to return to work. However, if the reservist wishes to return to during their leave, they can request this from their commanding officer or the de-mobilisation centre.
Reservists are entitled to return to the same type of job they were doing prior to mobilisation and on the same terms and conditions. In the event that the same type of job no longer exists, then you can offer them a reasonable alternative. You must also continue to offer employment for a minimum amount of time, depending on how long the reservist was employed by you before reservist mobilisation.
Deadlines for making a claim
A claim for financial support can be made before the mobilisation period for reservists, but payment will not be made until they have started their service. The deadline for making a claim is four weeks after the last day of their service.
Claims can be made on an ad-hoc basis, as and when they may arise. You don't need to wait in order to make a lump sum claim. Details on how to make a claim, can be found on the government’s website.
How we can help you with reservist mobilisation
With emergency services being stretched to their limits and up to 1.5 million vulnerable individuals confined to a strict quarantine for up to 12 weeks, it is becoming more and more likely that reservist mobilisation could be necessary to assist in a national effort. Our employer solutions team can help you prepare for a national mobilisation and provide advice on the financial support that may be available.