The SDSR made it abundantly clear that the armed forces would have a greater reliance on reserve forces, primarily the Territorial Army (although the other services have a growing reserve element) but the important questions of employer engagement were neatly ducked.
The strategy seemed to be characterised by one word;
Those in the civil service (although local and regional government might be very different) already get paid leave for reserve duties exclusive of deployments covered by the Reserve Forces act 1996 so it seems Mr Hammond is calling on the private sector to do the same.
The prospect of primary legislation that compelled employers to release people for training activities was always going to be remote whilst we are both in the teeth of a serious economic downtime and not facing an urgent defence threat.
This was widely predicted as being a critical stumbling block to much increased reliance on reservists.
It might be easy for the Government to lead by example because it essentially has a great big pot of cash and plenty of people but for the majority of employers that are struggling with the economic environment it is entirely a different challenge.
Lets not forget that the reservist will be paid for their training time, funded by their employer through corporation tax and employers national insurance.
Why should they then be expected to pay twice, once via taxation that pays the reservists wages and twice for the disruption and temporary staff costs whilst they are away on training?
Those stating that employers should ‘do their bit’ invariably do so from the comfort of the public purse, funded by taxes levied on employers so I think it is basically one great big piss take to expect them to do more and it should be painfully obvious to those that inhabit the real world that being lectured to by the defence minister is unlikely to compensate for losing key staff.
This means in practice that in future, the majority of reservists will likely be employed in the public sector.
So back to what Phil Hammond said;
In the future, the Reserves will form an integral and integrated part of the Armed Forces so it is essential they have time to train. The Government is showing its commitment by taking the lead as an employer of reservists and we hope other employers will follow suit
See what I was saying about hope