Reservist employees can still be furloughed

19 June 2020

After the Government’s announcement on the new flexible furlough starting on 1 July 2020 (where staff can be brought back to work on a part-time basis), they clarified those who would be exempt from the deadlines introduced for both flexible furlough and full furlough. Other than those returning from various forms of family leave, it has now also been confirmed that military reservists returning from service can be furloughed for the first time after the cut-off date of 10 June — providing that the organisation has previously furloughed at least one employee.

Reservists are individuals who are members of a military reserve force. This means that they give up their time to both train with the regular armed forces and be mobilised on full-time operations with them. They are not required by the military on a permanent basis and, when not mobilised, are classed as civilians. This means they can maintain careers completely separate from the army. As of 2019, there are approximately 35,000 volunteer reservists in the UK, representing around 14% of its total defence capacity.

In most cases, the fact that an employee is a reservist will make no difference to how they are treated in the workplace. They should still be provided the same rights and entitlements that organisations would provide another employee who is not a reservist. However, there are some exemptions to this rule when it comes to responsibilities placed on organisations regarding the reservist’s liability for mobilisation and their reinstatement. Also, as a result of the coronavirus, reservists are equally exempt when it comes to access to making claims under the furlough scheme (where employers can receive a Government grant to cover 80% of employee wages, who are not permitted to carry out any work for the employer).

In all, this latest announcement means that two groups of people are now not subject to the cut-off date originally announced by the Government and can be furloughed for the first time after 10 June.

Further guidance on this will be released next week.