The Secretary of State for Defence, announced last month his success in closing the £38bn defence budget gap partly by reducing defence personnel.  The aim is that by 2020, the land force will be reduced to 120,000 with a ratio of 70:30 Regulars to Reservists.  There are around 30,660 volunteer Reservists in the UK making up the Territorial Army, The Royal Naval Reserves & Royal Marines Reserves and The Royal Air Force Reserves.  With the planned increase in Reservists, the increased likelihood of mobilisation for active duty and their usage for events such as the Olympics, how will this affect employers?

The benefits of hiring Reservists

All Reservists make a serious commitment to training – for the majority, this is around 30 days a year, made up of evenings, weekends and one15-day training session.  The training covers a range of transferable skills which can be of benefit to their employer.  These include decision making, communication, leadership, team building, performing under pressure and practical skills.  They also develop experience in dealing with a diverse range of people.  SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Rerservists and Employers) has just released research into the financial value of this training which is equivalent to £8,327 per Reservist, per year – a great deal more than most SMEs can afford for training!

Responsibilities and obligations

The Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 provides Reservists with protection of employment against unfair dismissal for the sole or main reason that they are a Reservist or have been mobilised.  They also have the right to be reinstated to their former job on equally favourable terms as before (or as near as practicable) following mobilisation subject to certain conditions.  There is no legal obligation to provide additional paid or unpaid time off for training but many employers provide some to cover the longer training periods, usually with the requirement that it is matched with holiday.  During active duty, employers do not have to pay salary or associated benefit.

Support provided

SaBRE has been set up by the Government to provide support to Reservists and their employers.  This includes providing information on rights and responsibilities and helping employers see the value these employees may bring.  More information on their services is available on here. also host local events throughout the year for employers to find out more about what Reservists do, how they train and the skills and benefits they bring.  Details of these can also be found on their website.

Should an employee be mobilised, notice is provided along with an information pack for employers.  Employers are eligible for financial assistance to cover the costs of finding a temporary replacement or retraining Reservists under certain circumstances on their return.

Showing support

Employers who wish to support SaBRE and Reservists can register free on their website and they will be included on the SaBRE online list of supportive employers and be invited to local events.

For information on hiring Reservists please contact Anita Wynne, Director and SaBRE Ambassador at Beststart HR on or Tel: 01438 747 747