UK firms 'biased against TA troops'
The former head of the Territorial Army has criticised British firms for discriminating against reservists by refusing to employ them because of their part-time military role, it has been reported.
Foreign-owned firms are more likely to employ people who are in the TA, with some even paying their wages while they are on active service, the Duke of Westminster told the Daily Telegraph.
But he said the prospect of losing staff to training and active service in Afghanistan meant British firms were less likely to hire TA soldiers, which was also hitting recruitment.
The Duke, the country's wealthiest British-born individual, said servicemen and women should not have to declare their service when applying for jobs, as they currently do, and suggested that firms employing reservists should receive National Insurance breaks.
"There is undoubtedly discrimination against someone who at interview says he is in the Territorial Army," he told the paper. "These days when you have to tick the boxes on the interview sheet, one of the questions is 'Are you in the Territorial Army'. (But) we are not allowed by legislation to say: 'Are you pregnant? Are you about to be pregnant? Are you white? Are you Muslim?' Why is it there? It is the most outrageous form of discrimination. It has been mentioned to me by my soldiers on more than 100 occasions."
The Duke spent more than 40 years in the Territorial Army before retiring with the rank of Major General at the start of the month.
He has an estimated fortune of £7.35 billion thanks to his central London property empire, according to this year's Rich List from The Sunday Times.
Territorial Army will play a greater role in British armed forces in future years as the regular Army is cut from 102,000 to 82,000 and reservist numbers doubled to 30,000 under the Army 2020 plan, the biggest restructuring of the service for decades.
The Duke told the Daily Telegraph some US employers in Britain even continue to pay reservists on active service. He told the paper: "Our overseas employers are better than the English employers - I am talking about French, Japanese, Americans and others. All those countries had national service or its equivalent right up to two or three years ago, so there is a service culture built in."
He told the paper British employers should realise TA troops made a "lifestyle choice" to join, that choice being "to go out there and be shot at". He told the paper that when he raised the idea of National Insurance cuts for firms employing TA soldiers to the Ministry of Defence he was told to "rein my neck in".