Employees who are called up for active service in the Armed Forces, under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985, are entitled to resume their employment on their return - effectively their contract continues during their service.

Most employees protected by the law covered by this section are volunteers. However, recently whenever there has been a need to use such volunteers, their participation in active service has been made compulsory by the State so that it is clear that their rights are protected under the above Act. There is no obligation on the employer to pay for the time away from work - the reservist will be paid by the State during that period.

On returning from service, a reservist must re-apply to his or her employer in writing by the third Monday after the end of the service, giving a date within the period ending with the sixth Monday after the end of the service for return to their previous job.

The reservist must be taken back on terms no less favourable than those on which (s)he was previously employed - with credit for any improvements, e.g. increased remuneration, profit share etc., made during their absence.

A reservist with 52 weeks service before call up, must be employed for at least 52 weeks after their return.

Reservists with 13 but less than 52 weeks must be employed for 26 weeks after their return.

Reservists with less than 13 weeks service, must be employed for 13 weeks after their return.

Continuity of employment is assured for reservists re-engaged within 6 months of the end of their military service.

Should the employer not comply with the above requirements, the reservist (irrespective of the length of their employment) has the right to appeal to a Tribunal for recovery of the wages due to them.

Even though those on the reserve list may volunteer for service and thus not qualify for the above payments, it is now customary for them to be subsequently conscripted, thus entitling them to the benefits.

Recent Developments
An increasing number of employees are members of the High Readiness Reserves - a force which provides peace-keeping, humanitarian and disaster relief services using two categories of reservists. Volunteers with special skills accept, with the consent of their employers, a liability to be called out (often at short notice) to provide such services, whereas Sponsored Reserves undertake support services. Whilst such employees are on-call, the MoD provides funds to enable employers to recruit temporary staff, and the ministry also tops up military pay to the employees normal pay whilst they are on service. Both employers and employees have a right to veto and/or defer the call out.

From 1st April 2004, those who join the Volunteer Reserve Force are required to notify their employers of their membership of such Force.