Information for reservists
THE RESERVIST IN A CIVILIAN ENVIRONMENT
You're a Reservist. And you've been in the Reserve for one year, ten years, twenty-five years. But in your civilian work or educational environment, people don't really know what you do, understand what you do and in some cases, even appreciate what you do. It's a fact of life: most Canadians have no military experience or exposure. As a Reservist, you believe in yourself. How do you get your employer to believe in you too?
As a Reservist, you train at your unit. Sometimes it's weeknights, and you start early. That means there are some times in your civilian job when you can't work late. And what about summer training? You need to take courses, do OJT, carry out military functions and often, all you have is two weeks of leave from your civilian job.
Your problem, of course, is that not only does your employer or educator not really know what you do when you put on a uniform – now, you need to ask him to cut you some slack, to give you a break. Sound familiar?
JOB PROTECTION LEGISLATION FOR RESERVISTS
Since June 2012, the federal government, all ten provincial governments, and all three territories have passed job protection legislation for Reservists. Job Protection Legislation for Reservists does not replace the goodwill which employers and educational institutions regularly demonstrate towards Canada's Reserve Force. That said, having the right to do something is one thing, but actually doing it can be something else altogether. And if you have to fall back on legislation to get military leave for Reserve activities, chances are that things could get strained. You don't want to make too many waves in your civilian job – that's something we understand.
. . . Good planning and preparation are the key to getting a request for military leave approved.
THE REAL WORLD: SOME COMMON QUESTIONS
First, you need to know that you're not alone, and that there's help. There are a number of different programs and activities in existence that can make your life easier and help you find that "right" balance between your civilian and military lives. Here are a number of the main questions that arise (some will be familiar to you):
I'm willing to approach my employers and ask for their support for some military leave, but I don't really know where to start.
This is probably the most common question. The answer is that good planning and preparation are the keys to getting a request for military leave approved. You should give plenty of notice – two months or more – so that if necessary, your employer can make alternative arrangements.
Ideally, your request to your employer should take the form of a memo or letter. Sample letters are available in the Tools section. Make sure your employer is aware of the fact that taking part in military training will sharpen your work skills. Let him or her know that military training provides you with a strong work ethic (loyalty and professionalism) an ethic that is transferable to any work environment. The military will also help enhance your leadership and management skills – all at no cost to your employer except for the time off. If you're a student, stress the wider range of knowledge and more global outlook you will acquire.
I've never written that kind of letter in my life.
The Canadian Forces Liaison Council will help you. Your Military Leave rep can send you templates, blanks and examples that will be of great assistance to you. Simply call your Military Leave (ML) representative. Templates are also available in the Tools section.
I have no idea who my ML representative is.
How much time should I ask for?
Most legislation has a minimum qualification period, and most stipulate the frequency and length of the leave of absence.
What about my union?
You are encouraged to approach your Union representative at the same time you contact your employer. In some cases, the Union might already have a military leave clause in your collective agreement.
Can my employer choose to pay me while I'm on military training?
All Reservist leave is without pay, although employers may decide to provide "top up" pay to make up the difference between the military and civilian pay.
My CEO might be a big fan of the military, but I almost never see him. My real employer is my immediate supervisor (often a middle manager or a foreman) and he doesn't care about the military at all.
Fair enough, but if that's the case, you need to tell us. If the middle manager is the one who should be identified, then the CFLC can help you do that. The CFLC programs appear further below. You should approach your union the same way you would approach your employer.
My employers aren't hostile to the military. It's just that they don't know anything about it. They might be vaguely familiar with Army activities in Afghanistan, but that's about it.
Here again, the CFLC can help. We can contact your employer (but we won't do it unless you tell us we can), and try to come up with a tailor-made solution that best suits you. We can get someone who is high-level – on the same level as your CEO – to make contact with him.
Maybe my company or educational institution already has a military leave policy.
Some do, in fact. Obviously, you'll need to check. For example, all Quebec cégeps have such a policy, as well as Federal Crown Corporations. If that's the case, then obtaining military leave will obviously be much easier.
It seems that my employers are hostile to my pursuing a part-time military career no matter what the CFLC or anyone else says.
If that's the case, you're eventually going to have to make a decision. If you still have enough flex to continue in the Reserve, fine. But if you don't, the reality is that either your civilian or military career will suffer. Maybe you can negotiate some ED & T from the military for a while. Maybe the problem will sort itself out. But if it doesn't, yes, you may have to make a choice no matter what the legislation says.
Do you have easily-accessible written information?
Yes. On this site you will find sections on Job Protection Legislation, Military Leave Policy, along with some "Frequently Asked Questions" and a military leave policy checklist. The site will also help you position yourself in the best possible light when job hunting: much of what you do in the military can be described in civilian terms that are helpful in a job search.
THE CANADIAN FORCES LIAISON COUNCIL CAN SHOW YOUR EMPLOYER OR EDUCATOR WHAT YOU DO
If your employer or educator can spare a few days, or even a few hours, we'd like nothing better than to actually SHOW him or her what Reservists do. We'll take him to an air base; we'll take him into the field to actually SEE what our soldiers do, and we can even take him to sea in a Canadian Navy warship. He'll see Reservists in action, the things they do and the sophisticated equipment they use. The list of CFLC programs appears below. Contact us for more information.
This program invites employers and educators to visit military training and exercises. They see for themselves the high quality of training that the Canadian Armed Forces offers to Reservists. You can nominate your employer (or educator, if you're a student) for these visits.
Awards and Recognition Program
This allows you and the Reserve Force to thank your employer or educator for their support. You can nominate your employer, teacher or organization for this award. You might be surprised at how much this kind of public recognition is appreciated.
Reserve Assistance Program (RAP)
This is a program designed to help prevent or resolve conflicts that may arise between you and your employer or educator related to your Reserve service.
Reserve Unit Support Plan (RUSP)
This program is designed to help you establish and maintain a positive relationship with your employer or educational institution.
Your CFLC rep/ML rep can tell you all you need to know about the above programs.
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