Legislation and Policy

Contents

01   ACAS helpline

If you are having difficulties at work you may want to know about employment rights, rules and best practice, or you may need advice about an employment dispute. ACAS can provide you with free impartial advice. For details of their helpline visit acas.org.uk

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02   Discrimination at work for civilian employees

You are legally protected from discrimination at work for any of the following ‘protected characteristics’:

  • age
  • sex
  • race
  • disability
  • religion or belief
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment

More information and guidance relating to your rights at work is available at:

Though being part of a Forces family is not a ‘protected characteristic’, many employers are increasingly aware of the Armed Forces Covenant and look to ensure that non-serving spouses and partners are not placed at a disadvantage in the workplace. If you feel that you have been discriminated against at work, or during the recruitment process, specifically because you are a military spouse, please contact employment@aff.org.uk.

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03   Register as a dual serving couple

If you are a dual serving couple, both of you can now register the serving spouse or partner’s details with your career manager.

This is so that both your career managers can liaise with each other during the assignment process to allow co-located/accompanied Service where possible.

However, assignments in the same general area cannot be considered a right, nor should the interests of other soldiers be allowed to suffer as a result of the policy.

Contact your career manager for more details.

In addition, dual serving couples are able to transfer up to 10 days annual leave to their serving spouse or partner, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. See JSP 760 (Chapter 8) for more details.

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04   Flexible Service

Service personnel can apply for enhanced flexible working opportunities.

Flexible Service allows regular personnel of the Armed Forces to ask to work part-time temporarily and/or to restrict their separation from their home base and their families.

Regular personnel can find out how Flexible Service will impact their pay and benefits at Discover My Benefits.

For more information, see gov.uk

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05   Flexible working non-standard working hours for Service personnel

Many non-serving spouses tell AFF about the difficulties they have with childcare due to their soldier’s work commitments. AFF consistently argues this is a major barrier to spouse employment and evidence frequently shows that non-serving spouses are more likely to consider this a barrier to employment than their civilian counterparts.

Flexible working is now an option for Service personnel. If you are interested in exploring this option, there is more information available on the Army’s Discover My Benefits pages and in Part 1 of JSP 750.

The aim of the policy is to provide Service personnel with an opportunity to balance work commitments with some personal responsibilities. For example, a small variation in start and/or finish times during routine work periods can have a significant impact on the individual and their family.

Applications for flexible working are considered on a case-by-case basis and should be submitted in writing. AFF would encourage the serving person to discuss proposals informally with their Commanding Officer/line management prior to formally applying.

The MOD has produced a helpful guide titled ‘Flexible Working and You A Guide for Service Personnel’ which you should read if you are considering flexible working.

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06   Flexible working hours for civilian employees

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks can make a flexible working request. Employers have to reasonably consider all requests and they must have a sound business reason for rejecting a request.

Flexible working can include a number of things that change your work pattern including working from home, part-time working, flexi-time, job sharing and shift working.

Flexible working can help non-serving partners to balance work and home commitments, especially during deployments and times when the serving partner is away. But it is worth remembering that you are only entitled to make a flexible working request once every 12 months, so do ensure that what you are asking for will work for you in the longer term too.

For more information on making a flexible working request, you should see your employer’s Flexible Working Policy, or visit the ACAS website.

If you have any queries relating to flexible working and managing unique Armed Forces situations such as deployments, then please contact AFF at employment@aff.org.uk.

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07   Family friendly employment policies

If you are expecting a baby, or have been matched with a child for adoption, there are various entitlements and policies that can support you. JSP 760 explains the entitlements that Service personnel have to maternity, adoption or paternity leave and pay. You can also check eligibility requirements on Discover My Benefits.

Armed Forces Occupational Paternity Leave Scheme (AFOPLS)

Qualifying Service personnel are eligible to apply for two weeks of paid paternity leave at the time of birth or placement of a child (in the case of a formal adoption). There are certain criteria which you are required to meet in order to be eligible for this. For more information about your own individual circumstances, see the Paternity Leave page on Discover My Benefits.

DCGS has issued guidance to ensure Service personnel can take compassionate leave to support their partner if they experience post-natal difficulties. Service personnel can apply for up to 2 weeks compassionate leave in these circumstances, in addition to their 2 weeks paternity leave entitlement.

Armed Forces Occupational Shared Parental Leave Scheme (AFOShPLS)

Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) gives more choice in how you care for your child during the first year. A mother (or primary adopter) must take a minimum of 2 weeks maternity (or adoption) leave following the birth/ placement. After that period, if you are a working parent, you can opt to share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of statutory Shared Parental Pay with your partner under the AFSOShPLS and/or the Shared Parental Leave Scheme of the non-serving partner’s employer.

There are several ways parents could use ShPL, including:

  • the mother or primary adopter returns to work and their partner takes ShPL
  • the mother or primary adopter returns to work early from maternity or adoption leave and takes ShPL later
  • both parents are off at the same time
  • both parents share ShPL evenly and are off at different times
  • both parents return to work at the same time and take ShPL later.

To qualify for AFOShPLS the Service person needs to satisfy the ‘Continuity of Employment Test’, and the other parent must fulfil the ‘Employment & Earnings Test’. For ShPL to start, the mother or primary adopter must either return to work or give their employer ‘binding notice’ of the date they plan to end their maternity or adoption leave.

If Service personnel intend to apply for AFOShPLS, they must notify their Commanding Officer no later than 15 weeks before they intend to start leave. The point at which you can take leave depends on your circumstances and how you wish to use your entitlement with your partner, i.e. expected week of birth, expected date of placement or when you want to start ShPL – you will need to look at JSP 760 or see your Unit HR clerk for more information about your own situation.

Read JSP 760 (Chapter 27) for more information about the scheme, and check your personal eligibility for AFOShPLS, on the Shared Parental Leave page on Discover My Benefits.

Deferral of Paternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave

Commanding Officers have the discretion to defer both Paternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave if operational circumstances require it. Personnel may also be recalled from their leave if required.

‘Keeping In Touch’ (KIT) Days

KIT days enable a Service person to return to work without bringing their Maternity, Paternity or Shared Parental Leave to an end. These days can be useful to allow them to take part in training or keep up with major developments. They are optional and must be agreed between the Service person and their line manager/Commanding Officer. For more information about your personal eligibility for KIT days, please see JSP 760 or your Unit HR clerk.

Occupational Maternity and Adoption Pay

You are automatically entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (or Maternity Allowance) provided you satisfy the eligibility requirements set out by the government. However, Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) and Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP) are determined by each individual organisation – the employer or the Army can decide how much enhanced pay they are prepared to pay and will have a set policy about a return of service. Read Chapter 24 of JSP 760, or your employer’s maternity policy, to ensure you understand all your options and entitlements, as well as how your employer can support you during your pregnancy and maternity leave.

Planning ahead and talking about your intentions for maternity or adoption leave will allow your employer or the Army to support you and ensure that you get everything you are entitled to. But, as ever with life as an Army family, postings can affect your plans.

If you qualify for OMP or OAP, it is worth considering if you will reasonably be able to fulfil any return of service requirements before you accept it. If you are posted during your maternity or adoption leave period, you may find yourself being asked to repay the occupational part of your pay should you be unable to complete the return of service.

You can have every intention of returning to work when you start your maternity leave but are subsequently unable to do so as a result of being posted away from the area. There may be alternative ways in which you could fulfil the requirement such as by remote working, working reduced hours for the period or possibly transferring your role to a more local branch of your employer organisation.

If you have any questions relating to this, please email employment@aff.org.uk

Parental Leave

An often-forgotten entitlement is unpaid Parental Leave giving eligible parents leave to look after their child’s welfare – to settle children into new schools or childcare arrangements, or to spend more time with them.

Each parent is entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave up to the child’s 18th birthday, with a limit of 4 weeks in any one year. More details are available in Chapter 28 of JSP 760 or your own employer’s family friendly policies.

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