Legislation / Policy

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01   Register your serving spouse or civil partner’s details

Soldiers can now register their serving spouse or civil partner’s details with their 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.

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02   The 90-day rule

If a Service person’s (SP) spouse/civil partner spends 90 or more days away from the Resident at Work Address (RWA), either consecutive or aggregated during a 12-month period, their eligibility for certain expenses and allowances, such as Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) will be reviewed.

It has often been seen as unfair by Army families because of the perceived restriction on spousal employment. AFF has been working with the chain of command and has received further advice that may help families understand the policy better.

The advice is that the 90-day policy is actually guidance to COs to help determine accompanied status, not to hamper spousal employment. Where the SP thinks that their spouse/civil partner’s absence is likely to exceed the 90 days, they should ideally advise their Unit HR accordingly.

The 90 days’ absence should not be regarded as an ‘allowance’, but rather as a degree of flexibility to accompanied status. The key is whether the absence is reasonable. For instance, in cases where the spouse/civil partner’s employment takes them away for short periods from the family home, if they routinely return to what can be reasonably considered the family home, then their accompanied status should remain unaffected. Conversely, if they establish another residence where the majority of their possessions are stored, then the accompanied status will be questioned.

You can read the full clarification from the Army’s allowances team below:

The guidance on accompanied status in respect of CEA can be found in JSP752, (Annex A to Section 1 of Chapter 2). If a Service person’s spouse/civil partner spends 90 or more days away from the Residence at Work Address, either consecutive or aggregated during a 12-month period, their eligibility for certain expenses and allowances, such as Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and/or CEA will be reviewed. It is for the Commanding Officer to conduct a review of the Service person’s accompanied status in accordance with JSP752. The 90-day policy is guidance to COs to help determine accompanied status, not to hamper spousal employment. Where the Service person thinks that their spouse/civil partner’s absence is likely to exceed the 90 days, or in any case of doubt, they should advise their Unit HR immediately. The CO will take all of the facts into account in determining whether accompanied status has been achieved or not. Clearly, the fewer the number of days the spouse/civil partner is absent from the family home, then the more the SP is able to claim that they are properly accompanied.

Following a review, if the CO is unable to determine the SP’s accompanied status then casework should be submitted the DBS PACCC for a decision. Similarly, if the SP is not content with the outcome of the CO’s review of their accompanied status they may also submit casework to the Defence Business Service Pay and Allowances Casework and Complaints Cell (DBS PACCC). The relevant guidance can be found in JSP752, Chapter 2, Section 1, Annex A; JSP 752 – Version 36.

Where a CEA claimant is married/in a civil partnership with another SP or civil servant, their P Stat Cat is 1s/c. When the P Stat cat 1s/c is assigned to a different location from their spouse/civil partner in excess of 50 miles they are automatically classed as INVOLSEP (involuntarily separated) which allows certain benefits normally associated with accompanied Service (such as CEA). The guidance on INVOLSEP is at Chapter 1, Section 2, Annex B of JSP752.

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03   Flexible Service

Service personnel can apply for enhanced flexible working opportunities after the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill came into effect recently.

Flexible Service allows regular personnel of the Armed Forces to ask temporarily to work part-time 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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04   Flexible working hours for civilian employees

All employees with 26 weeks or more service can make a flexible working request. Employers have to address all requests in a reasonable manner and they must have a sound business reason for rejecting a request. Please note that members of the Armed Forces are exempt from these rules.

This could be key for Armed Forces families as it can address deployments, periods of rest and recuperation and times when your serving partner is away.

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.

For more information on what your rights are, how to approach your employer about flexible working, valid reasons why your application may be rejected and challenging your employer’s decision, please 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 employmenttraining@aff.org.uk.

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05   Flexible working non-standard working hours for Service personnel

Many Army 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 Army spouses are more likely to consider this a barrier to employment than their civilian counterparts.

There is an Army Defence Instruction Notice (DIN) 2016DIN01-125 titled Flexible working (non-standard working hours). The aim of the policy is to provide Service personnel with an opportunity to balance commitments at work with a variety of personal responsibilities. Even a small variation in start and finish times during routine work periods can have a significant impact on the individual. 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 CO/LM prior to formally applying.

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

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06   ACAS Helpline

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

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07   Paternity leave rules (including adoptions) for Service personnel

The rules allow parents to share up to a year’s leave. There are eligibility requirements and it is recommended that you read through the DIN (2011 DIN01-037).

AFF recommends that any Service person who feels they may be eligible discuss their circumstances with their chain of command.

The Armed Forces Occupational Paternity Leave Scheme (AFOPLS) will allow qualifying personnel to take up to 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave (APL) in order to care for their new child in the first year of the child’s life or the first year after a child’s placement for adoption and, in some cases, to receive Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP).

However, to qualify for APL&P (Additional Paternity Leave and Pay), personnel must meet certain qualifying criteria, the first being that this type of leave and pay is only available if the child’s mother or the co-adopter has returned to work with at least two weeks of unexpired maternity or adoption leave entitlement remaining.

Existing paternity leave arrangements. The two weeks of paid paternity leave (i.e. 14 days) that is available to qualifying Service personnel at the time of the birth of a child, or in the case of adoption, the placement of a child, will continue to be available.

Deferral of Additional Paternity Leave. Members of the Armed Forces have an underlying commitment to be available at any time to serve at short notice both in the UK and on deployments overseas. For this reason, as is the case with OPL (Ordinary Paternity Leave), Commanding Officers have discretion to defer if operational circumstances require this. Personnel may also be recalled from APL if this is required for operational reasons.
To qualify for APL/ASPP a Service person must notify their Commanding Officer in writing of the planned leave.

“Keeping in Touch Days” during Additional Paternity Leave: A Service person may return to duty for up to 10 days during their APL without bringing their paternity leave to an end. These are known as “Keeping in Touch” (KIT) days and enable the individual to return to duty, for example to undertake training or to keep in touch with major developments.

KIT days are optional, and must be by agreement between the Service person and their line management/Commanding Officer.

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08   Discrimination at work for civilian employees

The law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For more information and to determine your next course of action visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website or the Direct Gov website.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against at work or during the recruitment process specifically because you are a military spouse, AFF would like to hear from you, please contact employmenttraining@aff.org.uk, Likewise, if you have an employer who actively recruits military spouses and has HR policies to support this please let us know.

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09   Holiday entitlement: civilian employee rights

Almost all workers have a right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid annual leave, but your employer may offer more.

Find out the basics of working out your holiday entitlement, including your rights on bank holidays. To access all the information you need to know about your right to paid annual leave, how to calculate your holiday entitlement according to your working pattern, accruing your leave and carrying it over, and taking your holiday visit the direct.gov website

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