Employment standards statutes in every Canadian province and territory outline the employer’s rights and responsibilities with regards to granting periods of unpaid leave to employees who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. In a previous blog post Reservist Leave: A Primer, I outlined how different the requirements for Reservist Leave are from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (click here to see a comparative table), and recommended that employers take a proactive approach in preparing for emergency situations where Reservists may be called away. In this post, I will outline some key factors to consider when making a plan for dealing with these absences.

First, look to see if your business has any pre-existing policies governing Reservist Leave, or if there are any provisions with your existing employment contracts or collective agreements.

Second, consider asking your employees to self-identify as Reservists. Knowing how many Reservists you have in your organization will help guide you in determining whether you can afford to exceed or simply meet the requirements. Also, knowing which positions these individuals occupy will help you make a plan for dealing with any short-notice absences. Might some positions be back-filled by employees already within your organization? If not, could you engage a new hire or contract out that work?

Third, have a conversation with any self-identified Reservists about their goals. Some individuals may be intent on pursuing an overseas deployment in the near future, while others may only wish to deploy in response to domestic emergencies, while others still will have no interest in deploying at all. In jurisdictions that provide time off for training, ask about which training they intend on pursuing. Some individuals may only be interested in a week off for a training exercise, while others might be hoping to participate in a much lengthier career course. Making these determinations early will help guide you in planning for absences.

Finally, ensure that your business has a Reservist Leave Policy. In my next blog post, I will elaborate on some of the factors an employer should consider when creating a Reservist Leave Policy for their organization.