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Compensation for employers of reservists program – fact or fiction?

reservistprogramThe Canadian Forces website states that there are currently 26,000 Reservists in the Forces, from all walks of life. Chances are many employers will have reservists on their payroll as employees. Indeed, since 2007 all provinces and territories, in addition to the federal government, have enacted legislation to provide for unpaid leave for reservists.

The fact that legislated leaves for reservists are unpaid leaves does not mean there is no cost to employers. A C. D. Howe study from 2010 (“Supporting Employees Who Deploy: the Case for Financial Assistance to Employers of Military Reservists”, Backgrounder No. 123, January 2010 by Colin Busby PDF) noted the costs to employers with reservist employees who deploy included recruitment costs of hiring replacement employees, overtime costs to cover the work of deployed employees, losses in productivity, and the costs to retrain and reintegrate the returning reservist into the workplace. Busby argued that such costs are a disincentive to employers to hire reservists as employees and championed the introduction of an employer support program to provide financial support to employers with reservist employees who are deployed.

In 2011, as part of the pre-budget consultations for the 2012 federal budget, an organization called Canada Company, “a charitable, non-partisan organization that serves to build the bridge between business and community leaders and the Canadian military,” took up the cause and proposed that the federal government implement the findings and recommendations of the C. D. Howe study.

The federal government appeared to agree and in the 2012 Budget “Economic Action Plan 2012” it stated it “commits to providing financial support to employers of reservists to offset costs such as the hiring and training of replacement workers or increasing overtime hours for existing employees” with the promise of “details of this program to be announced by the Government in the coming months.”

Skip to the Throne Speech of 2013 (October 2013) and the federal government again states its commitment to support the armed forces by “assist[ing] employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions vital to the security of all Canadians.”

Finally on November 25, 2014, the federal government announced the implementation of a compensation program for employers with reservists who are deployed. The program would cover eligible employers with eligible reservists who have been deployed for a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 18 months. The employee must have worked for the employer for three consecutive months prior to deployment and for at least 30 hours per week.

Employers would be eligible for approximately $403.00 per week for the duration of the employee’s absence that would be paid in a lump sum at the end of the deployment period. The program was to be a joint program between Department of National Defence and Employment and Social Development Canada.

The press announcement did not include any further details of the program and we still have many unanswered questions, including whether employers are eligible for the payment if reservist employees do not return to their former jobs as scheduled (even though they may have still shouldered the costs associated with maintaining the position for the employee’s return).

In order to find out more, we had been making inquiries to the Department of National Defence, Employment and Social Development Canada, local MP offices, cabinet ministers and party leaders, and for many months, heard nothing but crickets. Even Canada Company, which was so instrumental in getting this program announced, had heard nothing. Just this week, however, Shelley Dooher, Director General, National Grants and Contributions Delivery Centre, Program Operations Branch, Service Canada provided this response regarding the status of the program:

Thank you for your interest in the program. We are working closely with the Department of National Defence to finalize the design and delivery process for the CERP, including the finalization of the application form and guide for applicants. Once finalized, information on how to apply to CERP will be made available on the Department’s funding page at www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/funding/index.shtml.”

We will continue to follow the progress of this program and will provide more details as they become available.

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HR PolicyPro

For more details on Military/Reservist Leave and a sample policy, see the Human Resources PolicyPro.

Michele Glassford

VP and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of VP and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more
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