Small businesses struggling to hire army reservists

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According to a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 30% of small businesses are failing to hire reservists from the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The FSB claim that a lack of support and investment is to blame for these figures, and states that SMEs need more Government backing to encourage recruitment and to give reservists the support they require.

It has responded to the Government consultation, Future Reserves 2020, by saying that better communication from Government is key for small firms to employ a reservist.

Results from a FSB snap poll show that 89% of respondents had not heard of the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Awareness Events, while 86% of FSB members said that any Government support to businesses employing reservists should focus on the specific needs of small and micro firms, rather than big business.

Specifically, a financial incentive (39%), help in finding replacement staff (30%) and flexibility in the training schedule (21%) would encourage more businesses to employ a reservist in the future.

John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said:

“At the end of 2012 the Government said that it would work with employers of reservists and give them more notice before their staff are deployed.

“These results suggest the support cannot come soon enough. We have long said that the smallest firms may find it more difficult to be supportive of employing a reservist, especially as each employee makes such a large proportion of a workforce.

Better communication, information and support that are tailored to the needs of small firms are a must if they are to consider taking one on.

“There is an appetite among some small businesses to hire a reservist in the future, but there are clear areas the Government must address. Putting the needs of the smallest firms at the heart of reforms would be a good start.”

He concluded:

“While small firms are flexible by the nature of their size, they feel that more help to recruit a replacement would be beneficial. The Ministry of Defence must look to engage with the sector to help provide the assistance needed.”

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