2 December 2021

Working over the festive period in UK Defence

Shutdown for military personnel does not apply to civilian staff. 

It has come to our attention that the MOD and associated agencies and arm's-length bodies are initiating a shutdown for military personnel. This does not apply to civilian staff. The military shut down from the 15 December until 11th January does not apply to civilian staff. Even if this applied to civilians the notice about this shutdown has been too short for any civilians to plan this into their leave calculation.

There is precedent and the PRGs cover this. Policy contained in “Apply for and record annual leave – MOD main” states: 3.4.2 Managers can request that employees take annual leave at certain times provided that sufficient notice has been given. To comply with the working time regulations a notice period of at least twice the amount of the leave to be taken must be given to the employees. For example, if managers require 10 days leave to be taken then they must give 20 days' notice.

The wording says “request” so staff do not have to comply; we expect management to be supportive of staff who continue to work, it will ultimately depend on the workplace and the circumstances.

There are some key points here.

  • Leave is granted at the employer's discretion; if leave is not granted, then you must carry out work unless you are sick
  • If you do not have any leave to deduct then you must either be given the facility to work from home or be placed on special paid leave
  • If your workplace is to be completely closed for this period with no access to civilians then you must be allowed to work from home. All MOD staff should have been issued their own laptop.
  • If you can physically enter the workplace then you should and continue to undertake work apart from the weekends and public holidays
  • If you do not have enough leave then you must be placed on special paid leave as the workplace is shut, there is no laptop, and no leave to be taken.

The easiest solution is that the employer agrees to allow staff to work from home, especially as this should assist the UK to combat the increasing effects of the pandemic and they will be able to achieve service outputs across the holiday period. A laptop should be provided with access via MOD gateway, as well as following the Covid-19 home working policy and referring to the current FAQs from MOD.

We can mitigate the impact of the military shutdown on the civilians that it does not apply to. There must be no detriment to you in terms of discipline or deduction of leave that you do not possess.