HC Deb 23 March 2004 vol 419 cc672-3W
Mr. Liddell-Grainger

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what help is given to Territorial Army soldiers who have lost their job owing to service with the military in the last five years; and how many TA personnel have been affected. [161869]

Mr. Caplin

The Ministry of Defence provides detailed advice to reservists on their legal right to reclaim their civilian employment in the UK and how to seek reinstatement in line with the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985. Each reservist receives a copy of JSP 532 "Guidance for reservists returning to civilian employment following a period of mobilised service". The Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers (SaBRE) campaign team provides a help line and a website which gives additional information and advice. Also, each Reserve Forces and Cadet Association (RFCA) has an Employer Support Executive who is able to offer advice and assistance to reservists who are experiencing problems returning to their civilian employment. We are also introducing Unit Employer Support Officers to boost further our capability in this area.

In addition, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 11 December 2003 in the Defence White Paper, we will be examining the effectiveness of the 1985 Act and the other measures that go with it.

There is no requirement for reservists to provide the information requested to the Department. There is, therefore, no comprehensive record of the numbers of reservists who may have lost their civilian jobs. However, indications are that civilian employers have been very supportive of reservists and, of over 9,200 reservists called-out to support Operation TELIC, we are aware of only 15 individuals who have brought, or are seeking to bring, cases to Reinstatement Committees under the 1985 Act (as at 17 March 2004). In addition, two applications were made resulting from the mobilisation of reservists for operations in the Balkans.

There is one small TA unit based in Germany, where the 1985 Act does not apply. Special arrangements have therefore been put in place to offer Full Time Reserve Service appointments to 11 reservists called up for Operation TELIC, who have not been able to return to their original employment. This is intended to provide continuity of employment until they are able to start new jobs. We are very concerned to learn that these members of the TA lost their civilian jobs, and plan to raise this matter with the relevant German authorities.

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