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Reservists get day-one right to claim unfair dismissal

From 1 October 2014, people serving in the reserve forces have a 'day one' right to make a claim for unfair dismissal if they feel the reason for their dismissal is connected to absences from work through their membership of the reserve forces.

Day-one right

A day-one right means reservists can make such a claim from the first day of their employment, rather than needing to have undergone a two-year qualifying period, as is normal for many other forms of unfair dismissal claims.

Reservists had found it difficult to make such claims previously, as time not spent in active service did not count towards their continuous service total.

It became even more difficult from April 2012 when the qualifying period was extended from one to two years' continuous service. The change in regulations is hoped to rectify that anomaly.


When reservists are called up for duty they are usually able to give their employer at least 28 days' notice. While on service and during post-operative leave they are paid by the Ministry of Defence rather than their employer.

But once they have made an application to return to work, the employer has a duty to reinstate them to their normal job, or a suitable alternative role if this is not available.

Failure to do this may lead to a claim at the reinstatement committee, which can order reinstatement or compensation. Unlike making an unfair dismissal claim to an employment tribunal, there are no fees for claims made to a reinstatement committee.

Acas publications and services

Acas has useful advice to members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces, and the details of how dismissals should be handled in its publication Discipline and grievances at work: The Acas guide.

Acas experts can come to your organisation and help you build effective working relationships, or develop ways for you to develop the best discipline and grievance procedures should a dispute arise. See Disputes and mediation: how Acas can help.

Practical training is also offered on Conflict management, Dispute resolution and Handling difficult conversations.

Anyone thinking about taking a claim to an employment tribunal will need to contact Acas first, who will then offer free Early Conciliation. The service is aimed at avoiding the stress and expense of going to tribunal.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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