The last couple of days have seen rumblings in the press (see this People Management article) and in the blogosphere (see Flipchartfairytales’ recent post) regarding the Government’s proposed new employment measure relating to the legal rights of Territorial Army members.
The Government announced plans this week to reduce the size of the armed forces by 20% by 2020, from approximately 102,000 troops to approximately 82,000. The “gap” in numbers, it is hoped, will be filled by private contractors and the Territorial Army. Leaving aside private contractors, Territorial Army troops need a lot of time to train – troops, after all, are only as good as their training (and equipment) allows them to be. Members of the Territorial Army would need extensive periods of time off work not only to train, but also to fulfil their duties and be posted abroad. This, one can imagine, will not make Territorial Army members popular with their employers.
Further, this potential to niggle their employer is combined with a lack of legal protection for Territorial Army members. Employers are not obliged to give their employees time off but are encouraged to show a “commitment to social responsibility” and allow employees time off. The “SABRE” website encourages employees to build up a good relationship with their employer to help Territorial Army members to get time off work to fulfil their duties and to plan significantly ahead. Seen from the employee’s point of view, it’s a difficult juggling task – they’re being asked to juggle their career commitments with their social responsibilities. It’s not difficult to imagine that these often come into conflict and, with a lack of protection, the requirements of the Territorial Army come second. The need for a rebalancing of the law in this respect therefore seems quite clear, especially if the current Government wishes to fulfil its international military obligations.