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Reservists (Employers Compensation)

Volume 564: debated on Monday 17 June 2013

5. What compensation is given to employers to reflect the additional cost incurred by them through the call-up of a reservist. (159639)

Reservists’ employers are key partners in mobilisation and the Ministry of Defence recognises that they may incur additional costs when their reservist employee is mobilised. The reservist and their employer have the legal right to apply for financial assistance.

Under the terms of the Reserve Forces (Call-out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2005, an employer can claim the amount by which the replacement costs incurred exceed the relevant earnings of the reservist, subject to a cap of £110 per day. In addition, employers may claim for certain non-recurring costs that they incur in replacing the reservist, including agency fees and advertising costs. An employer may also claim the cost of retraining the reservist following their return to work.

I am grateful for that encouraging response. Does my right hon. Friend agree that service in the Territorial Army gives men and women alike invaluable life skills, and does he share my belief that, given youth unemployment levels, there are real opportunities to help young people get into the TA through events such as my recent jobs fair in Gloucester? Will he say a little more about the promotion of such opportunities in the TA?

I absolutely agree that service in either the regular armed forces or, indeed, the reserve forces offers a great deal of training in life skills, basic values and behaviour, and that that is of value to employers. I would encourage anybody to join the Territorial Army or the reserve forces, and I think that those who join and experience the reserve forces often find that they are much more suited to joining the world of civilian work than they might have been beforehand.

There is solid support across the House for the TA and the reserve forces. I know that the Government are undertaking a review and looking at their recruitment targets. However, there is uncertainty about the future of key regiments. When will the Minister make an announcement, and will he ensure that we protect the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry?

The hon. Gentleman tempts me to reveal what has yet to be decided through the White Paper on reserves, which we confidently expect to be published before the summer recess. By that, I mean this summer recess, not next year.

The Government have promised to make up the difference between civilian and reservist rates of pay. What estimate has been made of the cost to the Government of that policy?

Already, reservists are paid the same or very much the same as regular service personnel. We are looking at all aspects of this subject. Again, I am afraid that my hon. Friend must wait for the White Paper on reserves. I am relatively confident that enough people will come forward to join the reserves and that we can look forward to having a vibrant reserve Army.

Tomorrow, the Government will announce the next round of Army redundancies, which will be painful for everyone who is affected. To fill that gap, it is crucial that the reservists plan is a success. There may well be a problem of reservists losing out in job interviews, as some employers worry about a prospective employee being away for prolonged periods. Does the Minister accept that it is crucial to consult on new rights at work to protect our reservists, who do much to protect our country?

The right hon. Gentleman raises an important point, about which we are very well apprised. When the White Paper comes out, he will find much that satisfies him. He will know that the Secretary of State has said that we are considering financial incentivisation for employers, and for small employers in particular, who suffer disproportionately. If one person out of a work force in single figures leaves, it has much more impact than one person deploying out of a thousand people from a large employer.