• By Sam Cook
  • In
  • Posted Tuesday April 14, 2015

The End of the Afghanistan Conflict: Armed Forces Reservists in General Practice

On Friday 13th March 2015 the Royal Family and many Prime Ministers past, present and (potentially) future - joined Armed Forces veterans to commemorate the 13 year long Afghanistan conflict.

Almost 15,000 UK personnel served in Afghanistan and many of these did so in the Reserve Forces.

What does this mean for GP Practices?

Many employees with a medical background, particularly Doctors and Nurses support the Reserve Armed Forces and these employees have additional employment protection rights under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 cover.

The additional rights include:

  • Re-employment
  • Protection from dismissal

If you have/had employed staff in the Reserve Forces, you are obliged to re-employ them if they were employed with you in the four week period before being called out and wish to return to work within six months of demobilisation. Similar to Maternity protection, the employee should return to the same role and on terms and conditions no less favourable than if they had not been called out. Where a reorganisation or redundancies have taken place during the time the employee was absent, they must be offered the most favourable terms and conditions possible under the circumstances. Upon returning home from duties, reservists will be on post-operational leave during which time they cannot work for you until the MOD permit.

On top of the protections under the Employment Rights Act 1996, reservists are protected from being dismissed due to the employee’s liability to be mobilised with the Armed Forces and they do not need to meet the normal qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal. Reservists can also apply to the Reinstatement Committee who can award additional compensation or demand a position is made available.

What happens with the contracts if employees are mobilised?

Technically, an employee who has been mobilised has their contract ‘suspended’. If the employee chooses to return, their original start date still applies, but you can discount any time in which they have been called out.

What happens if we cannot accommodate the employee’s absence?

You cannot refuse to permit an employee to go if they have been called out on military service. However, in extreme circumstances where the absence could cause serious harm such as financial ruin, inability to provide services or other reputational and financial harm, an employer can apply to the relevant adjudication officer for exemption, deferral or revocation.

Where can I find support?

Employers do not have to pay employees who are called out on reserve and can claim financial assistance to help with the costs of replacing the Reservist. This is normally capped at £110 per day but there are other funds that may be available for smaller organisations on top of this too.

SaBRE (Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers), an organisation funded by the Ministry of Defence, can support employers on a range of areas (including financially).

Reservists can be a great asset to an organisation and can bring an extra perspective, additional training, knowledge and skills to the workplace.

For specific queries regarding Reservists working in General Practice contact advice@firstpracticemanagement.co.uk where you question will be treated in confidence and will normally be answered (by email) within 2 working days of submission.

 

© First Practice Management, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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