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CIOR/NRFC Symposium on Employer Support to Reservists triggers NATO defence college publication

This Symposium offered most of the material for Research Paper n°99 of the NATO Defence College, which can be found under the following link : « Send the Reserve ! New ways to support NATO through Reserve Forces ».


“Companies that encourage and support their reservist employees do not act only out of charity or philanthropy. They actually find it valuable and benefit from it in return”. These words from the CEO of a major consulting firm could be used as a conclusion to the Symposium which took place in Brno (Czech Republic) and was jointly organized by the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR) and the National Reserve Forces Committee (NRFC), on 01 August 2013.

At a time when reductions in the size of the Armed Forces, their  professionalisation and complex crises encourage NATO and some partner nations to increasingly involve their reservists and employ them sometimes in high-intensity missions, these past few years countless numbers of reservists have been deployed to Afghanistan, Africa, the Balkans, not to mention Iraq or humanitarian aid operations … Yet, for those men and women who are under uniform for only a few days a year, serving means that they have to make choices, in particular where their employment is concerned.

The topic of this Symposium was agreed jointly by the organiser, CIOR, which is responsible for the whole association aspect and by the NRFC, which supports it and is responsible for the institutional aspect (in conjunction with the International Conference on Employer Support for the Reserves (ICESR). The issue of Employer Support thus reflects questions shared NATO members as to the best way to support their reservists by encouraging Employers to release them so that they can carry out their tasks. In a climate of economic crisis, this is a challenge.

That is why, by bringing together both regular officers and civilian employers to address an attentive audience of almost 400 people including mainly reservists, but also a few   captains of industry, three round tables were the focus of a day from which four main issues stand out:

- The importance of reservists for the armed forces of NATO nations and the willingness to encourage at national level exchange of good practices. The presentation of different models of reserve forces in Europe, the US and even Australia, reflects a better understanding overall and offers opportunities for possible adjustments.

- A reminder of the importance of having a legislation that frames Reserve activities, protects reservists without discouraging employers because of potential constraints. In this respect, there are different political and military cultures; the United Kingdom has opted for a fairly flexible legislation whereas the United States has a legal arsenal that can prove to be quite daunting if a reservist is discriminated against in his job or professional career.

- For their part, companies are not remaining passive and are adapting, even encouraging reservist identification and relying on their skills. Large French groups which are defence partners and go beyond the legal framework to develop agreements that benefit their reservist employees are an example of this.

- But military institutions must also see to it that they communicate what they can propose to help those companies that would like to go further and become involved in this type of action. The Canadian example is enlightening; rather than forcing employers, they have tried to show them and get them to understand what reservists are and what they do. This has given rise to programmes where employers have visited the military sites where their reservists work part of the time. Forms of official recognition - rewards recognizing the official participation of an employer - are also encouraged, where the reservist nominates his boss or company for a prize.

The benefit of such a meeting and of this Symposium is also linked to the exchanges and ideas arising out of the comparison with other military models and cultures. There is no doubt that the Proceedings of the Symposium that will be published in the autumn will be an encouragement to pursue the work that has already been initiated. 


Photos Released by CIOR/Henry Plimack (USA)
Translation Miriam Atlas (NATO IMS)

 



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