FIRMS will get a better deal for employing armed forces reservists under reforms which come into effect today.
Small and medium businesses, plus charities and partnerships, will be given up to £500 a month if a reservist employee is mobilised by the forces.
The payments will be made on top of existing financial benefits that are offered to companies to cover the cost of replacing reservist members of staff when they are deployed.
Reservists now have more opportunities to serve, as the changes mean they can now be mobilised for any purpose that regular troops can be used for.
Penny Mordaunt, a naval reservist and MP for Portsmouth North, said: ‘This is very welcome, particularly for people who work in small or medium businesses where their absence would be felt more keenly.
‘My own experience as a reservist has been phenomenal and I would recommend it to anyone.’
Portsmouth has a vast number of armed forces reserve units.
HMS King Alfred, based on Whale Island, is one of the largest in the country.
In Hilsea, there is a unit of 679 Army Air Corps and 295 Battery 106 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery are setting up base in the city.
Julian Brazier, the minister for reserves, said: ‘Reservists are playing an increasingly important and wider role in defence, working and training alongside their regular counterparts.
‘In recognition of their crucial contribution, the law governing call-out powers will change and new legislation will help protect reservists, where necessary, within the workplace.
‘There are enhanced financial benefits for small and medium-sized businesses with employees on operations. Reservists will enjoy a much wider range of opportunities and better remuneration.’
HMS King Alfred is holding an open day this weekend to showcase the work of the reserves.
It takes place at Whale Island on Saturday from 10am until 3pm.
For more details or to book your place, call 08456 00 32 22 or visit royalnavy.mod.uk/navyreserves.
Sailor James is crowned the best on the course
ONE naval reservist proved himself the best of the bunch during his initial training.
Able Seaman James Richman, 25, is a professional yacht skipper who has joined the naval reservists at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth.
He has just passed his training with outstanding results, which saw him awarded the Captain’s Prize for the Best Naval Reservist on the course.
James said: ‘Perhaps in the future I’ll sail for fun in my spare time instead of the Royal Naval Reserve being my part time hobby.
‘I can see myself doing it full-time and joining the Royal Navy as a regular. Being in the reserve has given me a great opportunity.’