Employer support of reservists in time of pandemic
In this challenging time of pandemic, it’s probably safe to say that business will not carry on as usual. Employers have much to be concerned about – employees’ health and welfare, revenue, and simply put - survival.
In many cases employers have reservist-employees who balance double duty with both the Reserve Force and their workplace. Reservists are prepared willing and able to answer the call to support pandemic response or other emergencies, either nationally or locally.
Preparations for pandemic support across Canada are underway, and this includes many reservists, army, navy, air force alike, who have been asked to mobilize. It is with thanks to many employers who support their reservist-employee as they volunteer for Operation LASER 20-01 - the Canadian Armed Forces’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic within Canada.
The Government of Canada has authorized reservists, who volunteer, to be placed on full-time Class C service to support the Operation. The Canadian Armed Forces is currently mobilizing 24,000 service members, both regular and reserve, to support provincial and municipal governments and agencies in their efforts to suppress the disease, to support vulnerable populations, and to provide logistical and general support to communities. In Alberta, there will be hundreds of reservists who will choose to deploy and serve to support our communities.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians has been unprecedented, as is the scale of the Canadian Armed Forces mobilization under the Operation LASER response. Reservists’ dedication to duty in volunteering for Operation LASER is essential to support both provincial and municipal authorities during this crisis. Canada cannot meet its defence needs at home and abroad without the dedicated, motivated and highly skilled people who work tirelessly to defend Canada and promote Canadian values and interests. Op LASER is the immediate need, but reservists have been and will continue to be needed to support other domestic crisis, such as floods and fires, which are occurring on a more frequent basis.
In Alberta, Employment Standards Code, outlines a reservist-employee who has completed at least 26 consecutive weeks of employment with an employer is entitled to reservist leave without pay to take part in deployment to a Canadian Forces operation inside Canada. It also outlines that all leave provided to Reservists is leave without pay - as the Canadian Armed Forces will provide the Reservist with income for the duration of their contract. It’s good business sense to keep good employees and the employment code notes that employers cannot terminate, or lay off, an employee who has started reservist leave. Although these are the legislated minimums, organizations are encouraged to develop and implement military leave policies that support a reservist-employee even further.
There is great pride for reservists as they deploy domestically and equally for the employers who support them. Undoubtedly, business will not be as usual and if you have a reservist-employee there is support available for your organization. Employer support during this time of crisis is greatly appreciated by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Government of Canada. Indeed, when you employ a reservist, you in turn, are serving your country.
How can I find out more information for my business?
- Federal Compensation for Employers of Reservists Program (CERP) - Employers can apply and eligible applicants will receive a lump sum payment, in the form of a grant, following the deployment period of the reservist employee.
- Military Leave Policy information - if your organization does not already have a formal military leave policy, this may be a good opportunity to implement one that provides additional detail beyond what is in the job protection legislation.
- Canadian Forces Liaison Council - Employers Supporting Reservists - Info for military leave policies and federal support (CERP): https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/services/benefits-military/supporting-reservists-employers.html
- With Glowing Hearts – Reservist Support Program – a turnkey employer support program for reservists. The program provides information and tools for employers of reservists and is an asset for a business to attract and retain experienced and valued reservist/employees. Info and/or to Register: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WithGlowingHearts