HC Deb 23 August 1945 vol 413 cc768-9
9. Mr. Touche

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that prior to enlistment in the R.A.F. a large number of men were compulsorily transferred to agriculture and, in consequence, lost their right of reinstatement with their normal employer; and whether he will make a statement on the subject.

Mr. Isaacs

I am aware that in the summer of 1942 a number of men awaiting call up for service in the Royal Air Force were compulsorily transferred to agricultural work. This step was necessary in the national interest. Under the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act the legal obligation to reinstate rests on the last employer before war service began. I am afraid it would not be practicable to transfer this obligation to earlier employers to meet the numerous cases where persons have been transferred from their normal employment to undertake essential work.

Mr. Touche

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that in these cases the men have only got the right of reinstatement against the war agricultural committees, and that if they are not normally employed in agriculture they have no claim at all?

Mr. Isaacs

That is covered by the Act. It is not only a question of those who were directed to agricultural employment. Many workers were transferred from their own industry to another before going into the Forces. They have only got the right of reinstatement in respect of their new employer, and not in respect of the employment in which they had served before.

12. Captain Swingler

asked the Minister of Labour whether his Regulations allow a man who claims his rights under the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act, 1944, to enjoy his entitlement of leave for overseas service in addition to the minimum eight weeks' resettlement leave before returning to his former employment.

Mr. Isaacs

The Act requires an applicant to be available for work not later than the ninth Monday after he goes on final leave, unless he has reasonable cause for not being available by that day. I have no power to make regulations defining what is reasonable in this connection. I do not expect any difficulty to arise where an applicant asks his former employer to defer the date of his return until he has enjoyed all the leave to which he is entitled. In case of dispute, however, such a matter could only be settled by a Reinstatement Committee appointed under the Act or by the Umpire on appeal.