AFF Employment Campaign
The Results of the Employment Campaign
Following an AFF Employment Survey held in 2012, AFF ran an Employment Campaign to highlight some of the disadvantages Armed Forces spouses face. The Employment Campaign has now come to an end and we are happy that many issues have been successfully addressed. However, AFF believes that there is still much to do to improve spousal employment and career prospects and we look forward to tackling these during 2013.
Armed Forces Champions
One key aim was to raise the profile and change the terms of reference of Jobcentre Plus’ Armed Forces Champions (AFC). We are pleased that this has been achieved and we are now successfully working with AFCs to resolve individual cases. An AFC Conference was held in November 2012, which was a great recognition by the Department for Work and Pensions of the key issues that face Service families.
AFF is keen that AFC roles continue to develop, especially when it comes to educating customer-facing Jobcentre Plus staff about the challenges faced by Service families seeking employment and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).
Retention of Service Families Accommodation (SFA)
We also lobbied for retention of SFA to allow spouses to work their contractual notice period if their soldier is short-toured. We also wanted spouses to be able to retain SFA if they were in the midst of further/higher education courses, where they had a reasonable expectation of completing the course before their soldier was posted.
AFF is extremely pleased that policy is now in place, within the relevant JSP, to enable spouses to retain SFA once a case to the Housing Allocations Service Centre (HASC) has been made and agreed.
Easement of conditions for claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance following an overseas tour
AFF had been very concerned that spouses on overseas assignments were unable to claim contributory JSA on their return to the UK as they were unable to meet the National Insurance contribution conditions for entitlement.
AFF is delighted that this disadvantage has been removed by the Government, which has introduced changes to the conditions for claiming JSA to make it easier for spouses to claim this benefit.
Conclusions and Next Steps
AFF is delighted that we have achieved many of our Employment Campaign goals. Most important has been the positive shift in attitude towards Service families in 2012 through the Armed Forces Covenant. In addition, there have been several changes in policy that have removed previous disadvantages to families and the Government has also bought into improving employment opportunities for spouses. This was demonstrated by its endorsement of the Military Spouses Business and Employment Charter in November 2012.
AFF wants to see further career opportunities created for spouses and encourages employers to recognise the advantages of using the Armed Forces families’ talent pool. We are running an ‘Employer of the Year Award’ and look forward to seeing positive evidence of how employers work with Armed Forces spouses.
Our work with the Department for Work and Pensions continues, as does our relationships with spouse-friendly organisations including Recruit For Spouses and SEEN (Service Employment and Enterprise Network). We are also working with COBSEO charities dedicated to finding employment opportunities for Forces veterans to ensure the employment needs for spouses are also catered for.
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