Reservists and their families - part of the RAF team
The RAF Families Federation is keen to ensure that Reservist personnel and their families are aware that the Federation exists to represent their views as well as those of their Regular counterparts.
We appreciate that for many Reservists, and particularly the family members, understanding how the Reservist cadre contributes to Defence can be a challenge. Working out what support is available to you, how to access it, and who to speak to can be real barriers to communication. Many Reservists live a long way from their military units and enjoy a perfectly 'normal' civilian life in their own communities, with little need for access to the welfare support available from the military network. However, when Reservists are undertaking training or deployed on operational duties, Reservists and their families need to know what to do if they need help or support.
This part of our website is therefore aimed at providing basic information on Reservist issues and provides links to useful sites that may be of interest to the Reservist cadre and their family members. We will also run articles in our quarterly magazine on Reservist-specific issues – subject to the relevant policy staff and Reservists themselves helping us write the content!
So, if there is anything you want to know about being a Reservist or you wish to highlight concerns about the support available to families, we are here to listen to you, to signpost you towards the experts, and to represent you.
Why do we need Reserves?
The main roles of the UK’s Reserve forces are to:
Augment the Regular forces for enduring operations
When enduring operations, (for example in Iraq) would stretch the Regular forces, Reservists will be mobilised to provide an additional source of manpower, which will, in turn allow the Regular personnel time to recuperate.
Provide additional capability for large scale operations
When a large scale operation is undertaken, the Regular forces will require support from the Reserve forces in the form of individual reinforcements and formed units, to add either weight or specialist capability.
Provide specialist capability
There are some specialist capabilities which it would be impractical to maintain on a full-time basis – at least on a scale which could be required in all possible circumstances. These are often capabilities which Reservists can contribute by virtue of the skills and experience they can bring from their civilian roles, e.g., linguists and medical staff.
Provide a civil contingency reaction capability for crises in the UK
The regional Civil Contingency Reaction Forces (CCRFs) are made up of Reservists from all 3 services. If required, they would be mobilised to provide assistance to the civil authorities in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack, catastrophic natural disaster or similar crisis in the UK. They can be mobilised at very short notice but only for short periods of time. Reservists who volunteer to serve on a CCRF do so in addition to their normal Reservist role.
Maintain Links Between the military and civilian communities. Through both their training centres across the country and their members who straddle civilian and military society, the volunteer reserve forces provide vital links between the military and civilian communities.
Reservists terms and conditions of service
What follows is some basic information about Reserve terms and conditions of service.
The rules and regulations pertaining to the different types of Reservist are contained within Air Publication AP 3392 Volume 7. This publication is available at all Reservist units and at the Regular units that parent Reservists. It is also available via the RAF intranet. Anyone wishing to check the detailed rules is strongly encouraged to seek specialist advice from the unit administrative staff who can, if necessary, consult the Reservist policy experts at Air Command.
In general terms, there are 13 types of Reserve terms and conditions of service as detailed in AP 3392 Vol 7, however, this guide will cover the more common types. The first type, Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS), is broken down into 3 variants: Full Commitment (FC), Limited Commitment (LC) and Home Commitment (HC). Throughout a period of FTRS, a reservist has a continuous liability for duty.
Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment)
FTRS (FC) personnel have identical pay to Regular personnel, including X-factor, are entitled to Service Families Accommodation, have access to military medical and dental care and are entitled to the full range of benefits (allowances) except Continuity of Education Allowance (Board). FTRS (FC) are designed to be a temporary, generally short-term manning fix.
FTRS (Limited Commitment)
FTRS (LC) personnel have identical pay to their Regular counterparts but receive only 5% X-factor compared to the 14% paid to Regulars. They do not have any entitlement to Service Families Accommodation, medical and dental care or allowances but they are eligible to apply for Single Living Accommodation if required. FTRS (LC) may be detached from their parent unit for up to 35 days per annum, subject to no single period exceeding 21 days.
FTRS (Home Commitment)
FTRS (HC) personnel have identical pay to their Regular counterparts but receive no X-factor. Like LC personnel, they are not entitled to Service Families Accommodation, medical and dental care or allowances but may apply for Single Living Accommodation.
Additional Duties Commitment (ADC)
Reservists who join the RAF under ADC terms are best thought of as part-time FTRS. They normally work between 50-180 days per annum, receive equal (pro rata) pay but only 5% of the X-factor. ADCs enjoy flexible working arrangements.
Part-Time Volunteer Reserves (PTVR)
These Reservists make up the majority of the RAF’s Reservist cadre and are affectionately referred to as the “weekend warriors” who are members of one of the RAF’s Auxiliary Air Force squadrons. This cadre is entirely voluntary but they receive a tax-free bounty once they have completed their training programme, which usually includes an annual camp. PTVRs train at weekends and in the evenings and are not permitted to work for more than 90 days per annum.
Mobilisation - What is it and how does it work?
The Reserve Forces Act 1996 details when and how Reservists may be mobilised or 'called out'. Mobilisation under this Act is always compulsory although Reservists and, where appropriate, their employers, have the right to request a deferral or an exemption from the order.
Requests for exemptions or deferrals of mobilisation are usually based on sound personal reasons (in the case of the Reservist) or, as far as employers of Reservists are concerned, on evidence that the call out is occurring at a critical time and would cause an unacceptable level of damage to the business.
If a request for deferral or exemption is not successful, dissatisfied applicants can appeal to an independent judicial body.
The Reserves Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 provides job protection to Reservists who are called out for permanent service.
The Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Protection of Civil Interests) Act 1951 provides protection of certain civil interests including repossession of the family home and repossession of goods bought on hire purchase, caused as a result of the mobilisation order.
For More information
Reservists and their families may find the following websites of particular interest:
The Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers campaign – SaBRE
The site describes itself as 'A one-stop source of advice and information on the benefits and practicalities of employing Reservists' and 'providing support for Reservists in balancing your civilian employment and military commitments'. www.sabre.mod.uk
The RAF Reserves website
This provides useful information on careers available within the RAF Reservist cadre, location and contact details for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons, and basic information about joining the Reserves. www.raf.mod.uk/rafreserves
The Army Families Federation
The AFF has a dedicated Reservist desk and their website contains useful guidance on deployment. Although written with an Army and Territorial Army audience in mind, much of the information is of use to RAF Reservists and their families so worth taking a look. www.aff.org.uk
RAF Community Support website
This is a generic community support website aimed at providing information to the entire RAF family on the community support available to them. www.raf.mod.uk/community