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Joining forces

Companies employing a reservist can claim financial help if the reservist is called up. This covers the cost of a temporary replacement if it’s more than the reservist’s salary (up to £110 a day); advertising costs and agency fees for finding a replacement; a period of handover and takeover (five days before and after mobilisation); 75 per cent of the cost of specialist clothing for the replacement (up to £300); training costs for the replacement (up to £2,000); overtime, if other employees cover the work; and any training the reservist needs to carry on their job when they return.

The employer can also claim £500 a month as an incentive payment in addition to the costs of replacing and retraining the reservist (unless annual turnover was more than £25.9 million in the 12 months before the reservist was called up, and the company had more than 250 employees or partners on the date of mobilisation).

The Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme recognises companies committed to making use of the excellent training our forces deliver and investing in people as they seek to forge a new career in the civilian world.

James joined the Monthind team in 2014 as a cleaning operative. After leaving the army he chose to remain in the garrison town of Colchester, as his young family was settled in their schools, his spouse was in full-time employment, and the family had a network of friends in the area.

“I was a corporal in the 16 Air Assault Brigade, and when I left I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit into a civilian role,” he says. “I’d only known the army as far as work was concerned. If I am absolutely honest, I saw the job at Monthind as a stop-gap, to pay the bills while I decided what I was going to do for the rest of my life. But I quickly settled in and found that I enjoyed the responsibility of ensuring my customers were always happy with the service we provided.”

Simon Biggs recognised the potential in James and followed his performance with interest. He says: “After my first conversation with James, I knew he had management potential. He just needed some support to give him the confidence to apply all the leadership skills he had acquired in the army to managing cleaning contracts and other staff. His can-do attitude has guaranteed successful outcomes in the event of potential crises in the workplace several times, and because he can think on his feet and has the interpersonal skills to get the best out of his staff, we know we can rely on him. He is everything the AFC stands for and a highly valued member of the Monthind team.”

Emily is a reserve soldier and cleaning operative for Monthind. She says: “I had planned to join the army after leaving school, but personal circumstances changed and I needed to be closer to home to support my mum. I needed flexibility in my working hours and found that I was able to have this by working for Monthind. I really enjoy my job; it’s not all about cleaning toilets. You are part of the Monthind team and also part of your customer’s team.

“I take great pride in my work and have received fantastic support from management when I have needed to change my hours or take a short notice absence. Things have settled more at home now, and I have been able to join the reservists. It gives me a chance to get away and do the job I had always dreamed of doing. I have definitely grown as a person, and I have learned a lot.”

Simon Biggs adds: “Emily told me about her plans to join the reservists and I encouraged her to do so. She is a hard worker, and I knew she would be an asset to her unit. I also knew that we would benefit from the training and experience she receives.”

For more information visit www.gov.uk/government/policies/armed-forces-covenant

About Sarah OBeirne

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