New SaBRE listing of supportive employers

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by SaBRE_helpline, Jun 6, 2007.

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  1. Many of you will have seen the media coverage yesterday and this morning of the visit to Basra by the Chairman of BT and the Chief Executive of Norwich Union. There were also advertisements in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, Times and Sun.

    Our website now includes a list of over 100 major companies who have declared their support for Reservists as a matter of public record by endorsing the following statement:
    “Thousands of members of the Reserve Forces (the Territorial Army, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve and Royal Auxiliary Air Force) have been mobilised for full-time service overseas in recent years. When called upon, these men and women serve alongside their colleagues in the Regular Forces with courage and dedication, and often at considerable personal sacrifice. We admire their commitment and are determined to support all current and future employees in the Reserve Forces.”

    They include many of he UK’s biggest employers and best known names, such as Argos, Asda Stores, Barclays, BT, Carillion, Comet, Corus, Debenhams, Go Ahead Group, Halfords, HBOS, Homebase, JJB Sports, KPMG, Lloyds TSB, Marks and Spencer, Matalan, Microsoft, Morrisons, Motorola, National Grid, Nationwide, Norwich Union, Orange, Pepsi, Sainsbury's, Shell, Stagecoach Group, Tesco, The AA, The Carphone Warehouse, The Co-operative Group, The RAC and Thomas Cook.

    They have also, in many cases, provided some basic information about whether they have written HR policies on Reservists and over three quarters have also committed to providing Reservists with additional time off for Annual Camp.

    Although these companies employ about 1 in 12 of the working population, we know that this is just the start.

    We aim to expand this list with many more organisations (including from the public sector) and with more detailed information. Critically, we are encouraging employers to adopt a written policy on Reservists which is available to all staff, so that boardroom level intent is translated into a clear company policy which Reservists and their managers can consult when necessary.

    We believe that this list is a good start, and we will be working hard to extend the list and the information, but we would like your help as well. If our employer isn’t on the list yet, please encourage them to consider signing up. All the information on how they do this is on our site.
  2. How are you encouraging employers to sign up to this?
    I can see no incentive other than a small bit of good PR for employers.

    I’d love to see my employer on this list but it seems a bit pointless even approaching them about it when they have nothing to gain and their only legal obligation is not to sack me for being in the TA.
  3. However they've done it, it looks a b****y good effort so far.

    IIRC, there have been complaints on ARRSE before that nobody knows which employers claim to be supportive and providing info on policies and time off could be really helpful.

    Saw the telegraph this morning - great to see some companies wriggling because they have been named for being jack.
  4. Well done Sabre. It's an excellent start.
  5. I like the C Bland interview:

    Big names back our reserve forces

    By Dominic White
    Last Updated: 1:02am BST 06/06/2007

    BT's chairman is in Basra this week to underline the commitment of British firms to support employees with a vital second role

    As the only remaining FTSE 100 chairman to have done National Service, Sir Christopher Bland seems fairly well qualified to put his name to a campaign for business to support Britain's Reserve Forces.

    The BT chairman, who leaves the post in September, is in Basra this week to visit eight of the telecom giant's employees who are serving in Iraq as part of 81 Signal Squadron.

    They are there for six weeks on this occasion, but the vast majority of reservists go on operations for six months, with an additional two months of pre-training and one month of post- operational tour leave, making nine months away from work in total.

    Sir Christopher is in Iraq at the invitation of the MoD's SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) group, which has today published a list of more than 100 of the UK's largest employers who have signed a statement of support for current and future reservists.

    The list includes Tesco, Microsoft, the AA, Barclays and BT. But sources say there were also notable big names who explictly wrote back to SaBRE saying they did not want to sign the statement: these included Network Rail, Travelodge Hotels, Reckitt Benckiser, Iceland and BT's former mobile arm, O2.

    Sir Christopher, 69, is keen to point out, when asked, that his commitment to the issue bears no relation to his support or otherwise for the war in Iraq. "My views on Iraq are my own and this in no way indicates any corporate support for government policy or lack of it, but we do support our reservists.''

    But for all the fine words in the statement the company has signed up to, what does he actually mean by "providing support''?

    "The most important support we provide is to encourage our people to be part of the Reserve Forces, to make it as easy as possible for them to discharge their duties and commitments, and to make sure they are not penalised as a result of time away from work,'' he says.

    At the peak of the Iraq conflict, BT had 60 employees in action, he reveals. It's a major contrast to the days when Sir Christopher was a reservist himself, as an acting captain for the North Irish Horse.

    He joined the Territorial Army after his national service, where he was stationed in Germany as 2nd Lieutenant of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, from 1956 to 1958.

    Fortunately, he never had to fire a shot in anger, unlike many of today's reservists. According to SaBRE, in recent years, more than 13,000 members of the Reserve Forces have been mobilised for full-time service in Iraq or Afghanistan, leaving behind their families and civilian employers for months at a time.

    "It was a quiet time for the Reserve Forces when I was in them and the regular forces were much bigger - but now they can't survive without the reservists because of the multiple calls on them.

    "So our policy is to allow our reservists to respond to what they are asked to do.''

    But what support does BT provide for the families while members of staff are away? "We do most of that through the Army but also through the internal HR department, and we do whatever is necessary.

    "We make sure that if they have any problems at all they can contact us and ask for support. They don't have financial problems because we continue to pay them and they get full Army pay and allowances for being abroad.

    "We particularly make sure they are able to have good communications - of course. If a signaller can't get in touch he's probably doing the wrong job.''

    BT's eight signallers in Basra have in the past 10 years been called up to serve in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, working on vital telecoms infrastructure projects for the Army.

    While inevitably perilous, it is not front-line work, says Sir Christopher, so the company has been fortunate in that none of its reservists has yet been killed or come back suffering stress-related complaints or physical injuries.

    There is no legal requirement for employers to give any time off for training, but Sir Christopher admits that it is much easier for a multinational giant such as BT, which has 500 reservists among its workers, to make a commitment of the type it has signed today.

    "If you're an employer of 10 people in a small business, losing one person is 10pc of your workforce. We've got more than 100,000 employees, so we can afford to do this.'' But what does he think of the other large companies that have chosen not to sign the SaBRE statement.

    "I think you'd have to look at the individual circumstances of the companies,'' says Sir Christopher diplomatically.

    "I sympathise with small companies, but I think big companies should think about what the benefits are to them and the company.

    "All the people I've spoken to who have been to Iraq have said it was a terrific experience: sometimes uncomfortable and frightening, but they learned a lot about themselves and the world.

    "Although it's an old-fashioned thing to talk about, they have learned about self-reliance and adapting to pretty curious and testing circumstances and we believe that's good experience to bring back to BT. It's primarily their self-confidence that's increased. They are among our best people.''

    But while companies may be committed about releasing reservists, what does he think the reservists feel about going to Iraq given recent comments being made by some British officers about not knowing what their purpose is there now?

    Sir Christopher insists again that it is "not my job'' to comment on the rightness or otherwise of the UK's continued presence. But he does express fears that any further reductions in regular forces could put an "unacceptable strain'' on the reserves.

    Finally, I ask, is his visit to Iraq part of a bid by the former BBC chairman to become Lord Bland?

    "I don't think a two-day trip to Iraq is the right way to go about getting a peerage,'' he chortles.

    "The answer to your question is no, absolutely not.''
  6. msr

    msr LE

  7. Looks like it worked to me:

    "The arm-twisting appeared to work well, as all the outed firms fell into line the next day when contacted by Telegraph hacks."

    By the way - Mods - could you please set up a new site for msr? Called, let's say, ARMS (ARmy Moaning Service) as that's all he ever seems to do?
  8. Interesting articles. Good to see that this is happening.

    btw can someone remind us of the ARRSE thread that discussed this very subject, some time back if they come across it.
  9. Nice one, SaBRE. Thanks.

    With luck, peer/PR/recruiting pressure will cause others to sign up, and those who do sign up to have both time off and HR policies in support of reservists.

    Maintaining an updated list of supportive employers on your site should be helpful for reservists scrapping with middle management over time off for annual camp. Handy to be able to point to a website and say: "See, Brent - our boss supports me. Why don't you?"

    ABrighter, we discussed this on this thread.

    The list we produced (well, it was crossed_axes's idea) was:

    AA (Used to be good, no info on current sit)
    BAE (Rumoured to be good)
    BOC (1 week paid)
    BBC (7 days paid)
    BT (2 weeks paid)
    COCA COLA ENTERPRISES (2 weeks paid)
    COMET (written policy of support + 2 weeks unpaid)
    COOPERATIVE FINANCIAL SERVICES (2 weeks with salary top up)
    HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY (2 weeks unpaid)
    HEALTH TRUSTS (NORTHERN IRELAND) (1 week paid, 1 week unpaid)
    HOME OFFICE (2 weeks)
    HBOS (2 weeks paid)
    HSBC (rumoured to be good!)
    JEWSONS (7 days)
    LINKLATERS (week unpaid + supportive when moblised)
    LONDON UNDERGROUND (2 weeks paid)
    METRONET (2 weeks paid)
    POST OFFICE ("as much tme as I need")
    SEMBCORPS UTILITIES (1 week paid)
    STAGECOACH (2 weeks paid)
    THALES (1 week paid, unlimited unpaid)
  10. memories of when "Gulf1" starting in '91 and BAe (for which I was then working) realised that it had a different policy for Reserves in EVERY division - vis RO, Military Aircraft, Rover etc - never seen so much scrabbling to get a standard system. Wonder if it's got any better?
  11. I work for a local council who give 2 weeks paid leave. Not sure if this is true of all councils, but it certainly applied at the one I worked for previously.

    Interestingly, neither are on the list. I've sent a link to Sabre to the personnel people, but maybe SABRE should be approaching them?
  12. Well, you know what thay say about imitation and flattery!!

    SaBRE are really squeezing all the coverage they can out of this. Bland was interviewed by Declan Currey on BBC Breakfast this morning.
  13. Thanks SaBRE, as you say - a good start.

    However, can you tell us:

    What percentage/numbers of TA personnel are employed by the employers you have on your list?

    What percentage of appeals against mobilisation of reservists have come from SaBRE supporting companies?

    What percentage/numbers of TA personnel are employed by small, not nationally recognised, companies how many of these companies are signed up to SaBRE and what is being done to bring them on board?

    UK MoD: O2 won't help employees serve in Iraq.
    O2: Of course we will, but we don't support the war.

    The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has mounted a media campaign this week to shame major employers into signing its statement of support for military-reservist employees.

    The UK's full-time forces are heavily engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other deployments worldwide. At the same time, their numbers are historically very low. Demand for weekend-warrior reservists has risen correspondingly, and over the past decade it has become almost impossible for the UK to mount major operations without them.

    Without their civilian bosses' support, however, it can be difficult for reservists to answer the call: hence the MoD's moves to put pressure on employers. The MoD's "SaBRE" (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) campaign was set up in 2002.

    Thus far, according to SaBRE, over 100 companies have signed up. They include:

    Microsoft UK
    Cable and Wireless
    Carphone Warehouse

    Sir Christopher Bland, BT CEO and former national-service and reserve cavalry officer, visited BT employees serving in Iraq with the Army's 81 Signal Squadron under SaBRE's auspices this week. BT backs its reservists to the hilt, apparently.

    Sir Christopher told the Telegraph that BT management makes an effort to "encourage our people to be part of the Reserve Forces, to make it as easy as possible for them to discharge their duties and commitments, and to make sure they are not penalised as a result of time away from work".

    They certainly aren't penalised financially.

    "We continue to pay them and they get full Army pay and allowances for being abroad," says Bland.

    Not bad, it has to be said.

    The MoD also seized the chance for a little name-and-shame action, leaking the names of a few firms who had allegedly refused to sign up. These included BT's erstwhile mobile arm, O2.

    The arm-twisting appeared to work well, as all the outed firms fell into line the next day when contacted by Telegraph hacks.

    "We do fully support reservists and have a written policy to give them time off," squealed an O2 spokesperson, hastily.

    "We are happy to publicly confirm that support for them."

    When contacted by the Reg, O2 said:

    "A number of O2 employees are members of the Territorial Army. Some have already been called up to serve their country in recent years and we have a certificate from the Ministry of Defence in recognition of our support and encouragement of the Volunteer forces.

    In response to the original request from SaBRE to participate in the campaign we made it clear that we support reservists (which includes providing them with additional time off work) but that it would not be possible for us to make a public pledge. Like many companies, O2 takes care to act in a politically neutral manner and we felt that such a step could be mis-interpreted as a political gesture.

    We are disappointed that the Ministry of Defence is naming companies in this manner, and are unhappy with the implication that we are not supporting our employees. It is more important to do the right thing by our people than to publicise our actions."

    Of course, the refusal to sign up with SaBRE could also be interpreted as a political gesture - but that's up to the individual observer.®
  15. Bit in bold should read "yeomanry".