Employers roles and responsibilities


01 / 3 / 2016 Midnight

In 2013 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released the white paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued’ which highlights the MoD's commitment to UK Reserve Forces ensuring they are correctly structured and supported - and what this means for employers. This also included plans to raise the number of reservists in England by 2020. Find out more about the white paper by visiting the MoD website

Your responsibilities

As an employer of a reservist, you have certain legal responsibilities to ensure that your reservist employees are supported throughout their military career as set out in the
Reserve Forces (Safeguarding of Employment) Act 1985. In this legislation, it states that as the employer you are obliged to provide employment for the reservist when they return from mobilisation in the same or an equivalent role for a certain period based on their continuous service in your organisation before mobilisation. Please see the Defence Relationship Management website for more information.

key facts on employing reservists in the NHS will tell you all the basic information about you and your reservists’ responsibilities plus our model policy is available to use as a template for your organisation. 

Defence Relationship Management website also has more general advice and information for both employers and reservists throughout a reservist’s military career.

Benefits to employers

Reservists make an invaluable contribution to the NHS as they undertake a variety of clinical and leadership training that they would may be able to access outside their military training. It is estimated that, in their first year of reserve service, a reservist will have completed training worth around £8000 if this were to be purchased privately. With this in mind, many reservists find that they gain excellent leadership, communication and teamwork development throughout their training and mobilisation and, if medical staff, the chance to enhance their clinical skillset. 

Reservists can therefore offer your organisation unparalleled training and experience. Have a listen to our
podcasts to hear how NHS reservists front line experiences have benefited their civilian work lives.

Links with your local Navy, Army or RAF units can also provide your non-military staff with unique experiences – take a look at our
blogs to see how NHS staff have gained from team-building exercises on the ‘Executive Stretch’.

Tracy Taylor, chief executive of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust says, ‘As a trust we employ a number of ex-service personnel, many of whom are in management and leadership positions. We recognise and appreciate the skills and qualities developed through military training and actively encourage our staff to consider reservist employment.

Our reservist employees receive additional qualifications, exceptional training and unique experiences. In return, we receive a very dedicated, well trained and enthusiastic member of staff who is keen to foster team work and take on leadership responsibilities’.

Financial support

The MoD offers financial support to employers of reservists that have been mobilised. Employers can be fully or partially reimbursed for the costs incurred in recruiting and training replacement staff (including agency and advertising costs), retraining a reservist returning from mobilisation, replacing specialist clothing and the MoD will also pay for their pension contributions whilst they’re away from work.

You can claim for these costs before the reservist is mobilised and will receive payment once they have started their service. You must claim before 4 weeks after their last day of service or 8 weeks if the cost is for training following their return. Please see the
Defence Relationship Management website for more information on the exact financial support your organisation can receive.

Public commitment

Your organisation can celebrate its support for the Armed Forces through both the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

Organisations can access the
Employer Recognition Scheme bronze, silver or gold awards depending on their level of commitment to both their reservists and the wider Armed Forces community. Holding one of these awards offers you the opportunity to demonstrate your reservist support to staff, patients and potential employees. Your organisation can also gain ideas and inspiration from others that have received awards for their excellent commitment to their reservist employees.

Armed Forces Covenant offers employers the opportunity to demonstrate their public commitment to the Armed Forces community by agreeing to a core statement of support that describe the principles of the Armed Forces covenant that:

  • no member of the Armed Forces community should face disadvantage in the provision of public and commercial services compared to any other citizen
  • in some circumstances special treatment may be appropriate, especially for the injured or bereaved.

Each organisation is also encouraged to offer support in a way most appropriate to their situation and capacity, with the pledge document including a menu of options for them to sign up to. This menu covers employment support for veterans, reservists, service spouses and partners, as well as support for cadet units, Armed Forces Day, and discounts for the Armed Forces community. 

NHS Employers can help your organisation to develop its engagement with your reservist employees and also nominate you for the awards or through the NHS Reserve Forces Champions scheme. More information can be found on our dedicated web pages.

NHS Reserve Forces footprint map

Our NHS Reserve Forces Footprint map allows each NHS organisation in England to see their individual data on support for the Reserve Forces. You will find information on your reservist employer status, whether you have an Employer Recognition Scheme award or if you have signed the Armed Forces Covenant. Local Defence Relationship Management Regional Employer Engagement Directors can offer support to your organisation with regard to employing reservists. Details of your local director can be found on the map. 

Top tips

  • Know your reservists. Functionality exists within the Electronic Staff Record (ESR) enabling you to record the role 'Member of the Reserved Armed Forces' as a supplementary role within an individual's ESR record. Guidance on how to do this can be found on the ESR Kbase website (login required).
  • Support your reservists. By supporting your reservists to attend training, they can develop many transferable skills which your organisation could benefit from. 
  • Use a reservist's transferable skills. Talk to your reservists and understand what skills they have which could benefit their role within your organisation. 
  • Know your legal responsibilities such as reinstating your reservist following mobilisation. 
  • Understand the financial assistance and how to claim. If you understand this before your employee is mobilised, it will make the process easier for you.

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