Creating an Armed Forces policy

An overview of how to create an Armed Forces policy and why it is important to have one.

17 March 2020

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Creating an Armed Forces policy will demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to supporting the Armed Forces community and will help to ensure that no member of the community is at a disadvantage in the workplace or during recruitment due to their military status.

Why create an Armed Forces policy?

Training commitments vary between the services, but most Armed Forces reservists complete between nine and 27 days of training per year. Most training takes place on evenings and weekends, however all reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) must attend a mandatory annual training camp, which usually lasts for around two weeks. The camp may be held in the UK or abroad and develops skills in team building, communication, leadership and more.

Offering additional leave to reservists and CFAVs is not currently mandated in England but is considered good practice. Making your employees’ training commitments more manageable and negating the need to use up their statutory annual leave to fulfil mandatory commitments can attract more highly skilled reservists and members of the Armed Forces community to your organisation, help you to meet the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Award criteria and, most importantly, build a happier and more productive workforce.

Creating your policy

The easiest way to create an Armed Forces policy is to adapt an existing policy. For example, you might include the Armed Forces community in your Special Leave policy. Additional leave for Armed Forces reservists can be recorded on the Electronic Staff Record as a supplementary role.

Alternatively, you can create a brand-new policy offering additional paid/unpaid annual leave to cover part or all of the mandatory training camp attended by reservists and CFAVs. Download our model policy for guidance on creating an Armed Forces policy and to view example policies from across the NHS. Our model policy provides a legal framework which covers:

  • supporting reservists during training and mobilisation and demobilisation
  • supporting CFAVs during training
  • financial assistance and pension advice for employers
  • information on pay progression.

You might also extend the policy to cover the needs of the wider Armed Forces community. For example, you might offer additional leave to military spouses and/or dependants when a family member is deployed. Covering the needs of the wider community can help to support individuals within the community to navigate the complexities of military life, such as managing childcare while a spouse is away, improve employee, morale and productivity and help you to fulfil any pledges made when signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

Before you make changes to existing policies or create a new policy, be sure to seek the approval of your board. Your Armed Forces champion, if you have one, could coordinate activities around your Armed Forces policy.

Reserve and Cadet Forces model policy examples

We have developed a model policy example for employing reservists and cadet force adult volunteers (CFAV) which outlines the guidance and support available to employers of the Armed Forces within England.

This policy example is adaptable to your organisation and suggests offers you may wish to make to support members of the reserve and cadet forces within your workforce, such as additional leave and allowance for military training commitments.

Alongside our own model policy for employers, we have collated exemplar policies from across the NHS to show examples of how NHS organisations have incorporated support, including as a stand-alone policy or added into their special leave policy: