Dealing with Time Off Requests for Members of the Reserve Forces

March 7, 2016

Time Off Requests

Today, I’d like to discuss a question that somebody asked me quite recently. It is an issue that is not very common. In fact, unless you’re a fairly large employer, you’re unlikely to come across this at all – but of course, it always pays to be prepared. And if it can be asked once, then it can be asked again!

So here’s the question:

“What happens if somebody I employ is a member of the reserve forces, and they get called out? Can I refuse to let them go?”

Let’s start with the very basics:

What are the Reserve Forces?

Well, according to Wikipedia, a military reserve force is an armed force made up of civilians. In other words, people in the reserve forces tend to have normal jobs as well as their role as a reservist. They’re like a ‘just in case’ army – a backup plan, if you like.

Because reservists are not constantly being trained, or serving their country, they normally hold regular jobs. I’ve known reservists who are teachers, cleaners and doctors.

But what happens if somebody you employ, who also happens to be a reservist, gets called to serve their country?

Can I Refuse a Request for Leave?

It’s never easy just letting an employee disappear. It requires planning and budgeting, and at times, it can be catastrophic – what if they are a key member of your business, and your entire success depends upon it?

Well, here is a bit of helpful advice regarding what you can do if a reservist requests leave:

1. If no official call-out notice has been issued, you are not obliged to agree to a leave request from an employee on the basis of being a reservist.

2. If a call-out notice has been issued, the employee has a legal requirement to fulfil it – in these circumstances, you are obliged to let your employee go.

3. You may request exemption, deferral or revocation of mobilisation within seven days of the call-out notice being issued.

Requesting an Exemption, Deferral or Revocation

As long as you act within seven days of the call-out notice being issued, you are within your rights as an employer to apply to an adjudication officer for a revocation, exemption or deferral of your employee’s mobilisation.

Under normal circumstances, this will not be honoured – however, if you can show that the employee’s absence could cause the business serious harm, you might succeed.

Serious harm could include:

– Loss of sales

– Loss of reputation

– Loss of ability to provide products or services

– Negative affect on research or development

If your application is refused, you may also appeal this with an independent tribunal.

So now you know what to do if one of your employee’s is called up for mobilisation on the grounds of being a reservist!


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