If your business is ever likely to employ a Canadian reservist, then you should seriously consider implementing a military leave policy. While it’s not currently a legal requirement, both you and your reservist employee benefit from the clarity that comes with agreed procedures for them taking time out from their job and any related consequences. A policy can also help prevent accusations of favouritism or discrimination amongst your employees.
What Is a Canadian Reservist?
A Canadian reservist is a part-time member of the Canadian armed forces. Membership is voluntary, and patterns of service vary according to the force they’re in. For example, a naval reservist might require a different level of support from an employer compared with an air or army reservist. Nevertheless, regardless of the force they join, a reservist can be called up for non-voluntary service in the event of a national emergency.
Reservists are not required to tell their employer that they are a member of the reserved force, but this is encouraged by their military leaders. Most companies recognize the advantages of employing reservists, as they often possess transferable technical and/or leadership skills gained through regular military training.
What Is Military Leave?
There are two main reasons why your reservist employee might request military leave. They are most likely to request leave to attend an extended period of essential training from anything between two and 12 weeks to advance their military career. Additionally, they might volunteer for a full-time military deployment serving either at home or overseas. This deployment can be for as much as two years. And if they’re responding to a natural or man-made disaster, this leave might be requested at very short notice.
What Is a Military Leave Policy?
A Military Leave Policy spells out the contract between you and your reservist employee and displays your company’s commitment to national security. It should be guided by the relevant job protection legislation for your company and contain the following:
- The maximum amount of military leave you’re willing to allow
- Any conditions attached
- The amount of any financial support you can offer
- The effect that any military leave might have on the employee’s benefits and conditions of employment
Your policy might also specify the reservist’s obligations to the company, such as an agreed notice period before the leave commences, unless it’s a national emergency, and an agreed return date. You might also require your reservist to supply written notification that justifies their request.
What Are the Advantages of Having a Military Leave Policy?
Having a formal military leave policy in place demonstrates the value your company places on an individual’s professional training and development. A reservist typically develops high levels of leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills and understands the value of teamwork. These transferable skills are likely to be invaluable to your company, so it makes sense to integrate this free training into your employee’s career development plan and enjoy the benefits.
Displaying your support for your reservists can increase motivation and help you retain valuable employees. A policy can also enhance workplace harmony by helping other employees to view a reservist taking military leave as no different from them taking time off for a professional training course at a college. As an example, a non-reservist employee does not expect to use annual vacation leave in order to attend an agreed course and can reasonably expect some financial support and job security while training.
Most Canadian jurisdictions have adopted job protection legislation for reservists. A military leave policy goes one step further in terms of clarifying the nature of support you’re prepared to offer when your employee needs to attend training or respond to a national emergency. Support your reservist employees, and enjoy the advantages of the free training and skills they can bring to your company.