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Volunteer Reserve Forces

Volunteer military reservists, for the Army, Navy or Royal Air Force, are called up to supplement the regular forces when required, if they are mobilised they will carry out the same roles as a member of the regular force.

Key points

  • An employee who wants to volunteer for mobilisation must inform their employer and get written consent before they can apply.
  • Employers and employees should work together to enable reservists to fulfil their reservist commitments.
  • There is protection of employment for those liable to be mobilised and reinstatement for those who have been mobilised.
  • While on active service, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) pays the reservists so employers don't have to, and they do not accrue holiday with the employer. 

Training commitments

Reservists normally train one evening a week with their units, and can also attend training weekends throughout the year, plus they consolidate their training by attending a two-week annual camp.

By law employers do not have to give extra leave with pay for training but many choose to do so.


When a reservist receives the call-out notice, they should inform their employer immediately. The employer will receive an information pack giving them the possible dates and duration of mobilisation as well as their statutory rights. The MOD aim to give at least 28 days notice of mobilisation. In most cases the reservists are selected according to their individual skills so the MOD can select the most appropriate people to call up.

While away on active service the reservist will be paid by the MOD, therefore employers don't have to pay an employee while they're away.

Under certain exceptional conditions both the reservist and employer can apply for an exemption or deferral of mobilisation.

Keeping in touch

It would be good practice for both employees and employers to keep in touch while the employee is away, the reservists will have access to e mail. Employers can update staff on changes in the workplace, news and general updates on what's happening within the organisation.


A reservist has a period of winding down in a controlled environment for up to four days, and they will go to a demobilisation centre in the UK for any necessary post -operative procedures.

Once formally demobilised they will be free to start their post-operative leave which could be in the region of 30 days, during this period they will still be paid by the MOD.

Returning to work

When a reservist has been demobilised they will make an application to return to work, the employer has a duty to reinstate them to their normal job. However, if this is not possible they must offer them a suitable alternative role. Often reservists returning to work will need time to re-train or just familiarise themselves with procedures at work. An employer must re-employ the employee as soon as they are reasonably able to do so from the date the employee is ready to return to work.

Time spent away from work doesn't count towards continuous service but continuity of employment isn't broken where the reservist is re-engaged within 6 months of the end of their active service.

There is no right to accrue annual leave while away on military service, reservists when they demobilise will get a period of post-operational leave. Reservists will be continued to be paid by the MOD during this time.