Employing medical reservists in your organisation

Gemma Wright from NHS Employers and Lt Cdr Paul Falconer from the Defence Medical Servicesexplain how the medical reservist system works and the benefits that this partnership working can bring to employers and employees.
Medical reservists work and train alongside their health colleagues on a daily basis in the UK. In addition, they also use some of their spare time to undertake a second career, as a member of the Defence Medical Services. This is made possible by the support and understanding of their family, employer and colleagues. Medical reserves see the relationship between their two career paths as equally beneficial to one another, in that the required skill sets benefit each role, as well as profiting the individual. 
Benefits to the employer and the medical reservist
A major benefit for the reservist is the additional experiences and training available, which can then be passed on to colleagues. On completion of basic military training, reservists are able to access a wide variety of Ministry of Defence funded professional and development courses. These are available in areas such as leadership, management, disaster relief and advance life support; as well as adventurous training in both the UK and abroad. Many reservists have commented that they believe they have been able to advance quicker within their civilian careers due to the training afforded to them as a reservist.
Dr Adham Khalek, a Royal Naval Reservist and an Educational Consultant at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, refers to the situation as one of a complimentary relationship. He agrees with John Ferguson, an Army Reservist and Paramedic with South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust, that both the training and skills gained through the reserves have been instrumental in achieving a faster level of career advancement. The reserve forces provides a rich variety of funded training that can be transferred into civilian roles. The value of this training can be worth thousands of pounds to employers and employees alike.
Employer support
Employers can be recognised for their commitment to supporting reservists in their workforce through applying for the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS). The scheme also demonstrates that the organisation has aligned their values and activities to those within the Armed Forces Covenant.
To support employers and NHS trusts, NHS Employers has been commissioned to deliver a NHS Reserve Forces Champions programme, manager’s guides and a soon to be launched Reserve Forces Footprint Map. The map, which will be live in October 2015, will provide contact details of each trust’s champion and other useful contacts.
The champions will be a focal point for all reserve matters within their organisation, a visible point of contact for reservists, potential reservists, and other organisations that wish to know more. They will be able to assist their organisation in progressing through the different stages of the ERS, all the way to the gold award. In 2014, organisations gained a national total of 10 gold awards, 358 silver awards and 147 bronze awards.
Employee work life balance
It is true that reservists are required to undertake regular military training which can range from 12 – 27 days per year, depending on the service and role. Many trusts fully support this situation and typically award their reservists an additional two weeks’ unpaid leave.
Minimising the impact on the employer
The Ministry of Defences provides a financial package to employers which includes:
  • Employers do not have to pay reservist employees whilst they are mobilised, as they will be paid by the military.
  • Employers can claim for additional salary costs including overtime if other employees are used to cover the work of the reservist and marginal salary costs of a temporary replacement.
  • Employers can claim for one-off costs, including agency fees if used to find a temporary replacement.
  • Employers can claim for any re-training that reservists need when they return to work, if it is essential for them to carry out their duties.
  • If a reservist is entitled to remain a member of their occupational pension scheme and continues to pay their contributions, then the Ministry of Defence will pay the employer’s share when the reservist is deployed.
Gemma Wright, Programme Lead, Development and Employment Team, NHS Employers and Lieutenant Commander Paul Falconer, Defence Medical Services
Key facts on employing reservists in the NHS can be found on the NHS Employers useful fact sheet. http://www.nhsemployers.org/case-studies-and-resources/2015/06/key-facts-on-employing-reservists
More information on the support and resources that are available from NHS Employers can be found on their website. www.nhsemployers.org/reservists
For further information, please contact:
Navy jobs call 0345 607 5555
Army Medical call 0345 600 8080
RAF recruiting call 0345 606 9069


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