Small businesses are to be offered cash incentives to encourage them to hire members of the military reserves, defence secretary Phillip Hammond has announced.
With the Government cutting the Army to its smallest size in 100 years, it announced last July that it would be placing more emphasis on using volunteers. It plans to cut the numbers of soldiers by 20,000 by 2018 but is planning on doubling the number of reservists to 30,000. This is likely to have a big impact on employers.
Many employers have members of the Territorial Army amongst its staff and they value the training and skills that this brings to their businesses. However, if there is going to be more reliance on deploying these individuals, it could have a significant effect on UK businesses – particularly the smaller ones, who may struggle to cope with long-term absence of some staff.
The defence secretary, Philip Hammond has recognised that this will result in a change in the relationship with employers and has recently put forward the idea of paying companies a cash bonus in addition to compensation for the costs of hiring someone new to replace a reservist going away on operations, or for overtime costs for other employees.
Speaking to BBC Sunday Politics, he said the size of the cash incentives was still being decided but added: "By the time we publish the White Paper later in the spring, we will have a concrete offer on the table."
However, a spokesperson from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has responded saying that a cash inducement of the size proposed would be unlikely to change the minds of most small business owners. She said: “Research we conducted at the start of this year found firms are most concerned about the time reservists spend away.”
Posted on 19 Nov 2016