Reservists could be given legal rights "similar to those offered to pregnant women" in an attempt to stop workplace discrimination against members of the reserve forces.
The MoD is to publish proposals in the autumn to increase the size and capability of the reserve forces by 50% or more by 2020, to fill some of the gap left by the reduction of the regular forces.This would increase the trained strength to 3,100 in the Royal Naval and Royal Marines Reserves, 30,000 in the Territorial component of the Army Reserve and 1,800 in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.
However, there are growing concerns that some firms may not willingly allow their staff to take months off work to serve for the country.
The Telegraph reports that Ministers are considering legal safeguards to allow people to take time off and return to their previous position – and to bar companies from asking potential employees whether they are members of the reserves.
A ban on asking that question would be a departure from the present position, where (we understand) the MoD expects its reservists to inform their employers of their reservist status.
If the employer was informed after a successful applicant has commenced work, the applicant is likely still to be in his or her trial period and would not yet enjoy full job protection.
There would appear to be a number of legal and practical pitfalls to be considered very carefully before such a proposal became law.
This is not to rule out a sensible development of the law. There were all kinds of practical objection to existing legislation when it was first proposed.
A ban on an employer asking about reserve forces membership is only one of the ideas under discussion.
To expand the effective trained reserves to the planned numbers by 2020 will be quite a trick, and employers are key to its success.
The MoD plans to publish its proposals in the autumn, primarily for consultation with employers, but anyone will be able to respond.
The British Armed Forces Federation represents its members in both the regular and reserve forces.
Would BAFF members like the Federation to submit a sensible constructive response to the proposed consultation? If so, have you any initial suggestions at this stage, ahead of the MoD's proposals being published, as to issues or suggestions we should raise?
Please use the dedicated contact form or email. We are primarily looking for comments/suggestions from any serving or retired personnel (reserve or regular), but others affected, such as employers, families and fellow employees, can use the contact form to give us their views. It's not necessary to be a registered BAFF member or supporter to use the form. BAFF reserves the right to use anonymous/anonymised quotes in any resulting submission about this issue.
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