Administrative matters and employment within the Armed Forces

Military employment issues within the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom involve a number of different matters including Service Complaints and administrative matters including sanctions and even loss of employment.

Do remember that members of the Armed Forces whether Regular or Reserve do not have contracts of employment and can only rely on their terms and conditions of service contained within a large number of different publications, some of which are Tri-Service and others are Single Service publications.

Military employment is a complex process and is distinct from Disciplinary matters at summary level (Commanding Officer) and Court Martial including representation at the Summary Appeal Court (SAC). Coffin Mew provide extensive legal services for the Armed Forces and all Military personnel whether serving or retired from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army, Royal Air Force and the Reserve Forces of each including the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve, Army Reserve and RAF Reserve. Advice is also available to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and their personnel.

If you would like further information please contact us on 023 9238 8021 or click below to send an email.


Service Complaints

Service Complaints are dealt with under the provisions of the Armed Forces Act 2006 and particularly regulated by JSP 831. Service Complaints have to be lodged with an individual’s Commanding Officer within a strict 3 month period from the date of the complaint arising. There are some limited grounds on which to extend the period, but generally, the period is strictly regarded. If you fail to lodge the Application with the Commanding Officer either directly or through the relevant chain of command, then there is every chance that the Service Complaint will be deemed to be out of time and therefore ignored. There are ways in which to extend the period and for which specific legal advice will be required.

Service Complaints generally have a timetable which requires the Commanding Officer at Level 1 to investigate and to make a decision. If he is unable to make a decision, then the complaint can be progressed to level 2, either at the election of the CO or at the election of the complainant (the person making the complaint).

The level 2 complaint will be dealt with by “the Superior Officer” (SO) who must be at least one rank above the CO considering the complaint. Generally the SO must be an officer of or above the rank of Rear Admiral, Major General or Air Vice Marshal, or of or above the rank of RN Captain, Colonel, or Group Captain who has been authorised by a more Senior Officer to carry out the function of SO.
If the SO is unable to resolve the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant, then the Service Complaint can be referred to a Single Service Board of the Defence Council which may, itself refer a complaint to a Service Complaints Panel (SCP). SCPs have full delegated powers of the Defence Council and normally consist of two serving officers of at least 1 star rank, usually of the same service as the complainant. An Independent member and who is neither in the Regular or Reserve Forces or Civil Service is required for various complaints relating to allegations of discrimination; harassment; bullying; dishonesty, improper or biased behaviour; failure of the MoD to provide medical, dental or nursing care in specific circumstances; negligence in the provision by MoD health care professionals of medical, dental or nursing care; or concerning the exercise by a service policeman/woman of their statutory powers as a service policeman/woman.

In the alternative, the appropriate Board of the Defence Council will consider the Service Complaint and in some circumstances, will invite the complainant to appear before it together with witnesses.

Administrative matters and employment

Each of the three services has their own independent way of dealing with administrative matters. The three services have Core Values, Standards and Administrative action which can encompass a range of processes employed to rehabilitate, censure or initiate administrative sanctions which may be as serious as loss of rank or even termination of service in respect of an individual who has professional or personal failings, committed misconduct or is deemed to be unsuitable in post.

Administrative action will range from Minor Administrative Action (MAA) and sanctions to a Major Administrative Action with significantly greater sanctions.

The Military Covenant

This is a mutual obligation between the Nation and all members of the Armed Forces, the Reserve Forces and their families.  This has been enshrined in statute.

Armed Forces Military Redundancy, Premature Voluntary Release, and Resettlement

For many years, the UK Armed Forces have constantly been under review by the MOD planning staffs to balance the appropriate Defence commitments with manpower needs. Periodically, the MOD has required the Armed Forces to downsize and reduce in strength. Defence policy requires the provision of forces with a high degree of military effectiveness, at sufficient readiness and with a clear sense of purpose, for conflict prevention, crisis management and combat operations. Although recent redundancy programmes within the Armed Forces have now been completed, there is no guarantee there will not be more!

Coffin Mew can provide considerable help and support to all those facing redundancy in the Armed Forces over the next 4-5 years, should further redundancy programmes become necessary.

Having left the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force, individuals may wish to reconsider their personal circumstances and have a properly advised and considered Will made to suit their personal circumstances. The Private Client, Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate Department can also provide help with the setting up of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) should you need this either within the Armed Forces before you leave or after you leave and enter civilian life.

Reserve Forces Personnel JSP 532 - Application to Reinstatement Committee

All members of Reserve forces have protected employment and therefore have a right to be re-employed in the type of job in which they were last employed on Terms and Conditions no less favourable than they had immediately prior to being mobilised. If reinstatement into the same job was not reasonable nor practicable, then they have a right to be re-employed in the most favourable job and on the most favourable Terms and Conditions which are reasonable and practicable.

As long as the application for reinstatement is in force, a former employer must re-employ a member of Reserve forces as soon as he/she is reasonably able to do so from the date that the appropriate Notice provides that the Reservist states that they are and would be ready for work.
Compensation can be significant and advice can be given to any members of Reserve forces in relation to complaints that they have or in relation to a failure or refusal by an employer to allow them to return to their pre-mobilised service employment.

JSP 763 The Mod Harassment Complaints Procedure

The Armed Forces (including Reserve Forces) have an equality and diversity policy and which coupled with the Military Covenant provides that Armed Forces personnel are expected to put the needs of the Service first and forego some of the rights enjoyed in civilian life. In return, they can at all times expect to be treated fairly and to be valued and respected as an individual.

The Armed Forces will not tolerate unlawful discrimination, including harassment and bullying, but problems do arise from time to time.

In cases where there are allegations of unfair treatment and whether this is direct or indirect discrimination, harassment, bullying, prejudice or victimisation, then the Armed Forces Team of Coffin Mew can help you and will give initial free limited advice.