Clause 13

Employment Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 14 October 2008.

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Cadet Force Adult Volunteers

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

We take a slightly different direction in this clause, in the sense that its purpose is the avoidance of doubt. It clarifies a question about entitlement that was posed to us.

The combined cadet force—the Sea Cadet Corps, the Army Cadet Force and the Air Training Corps—are voluntary, community-based organisations. I am sure that we are all familiar with them and the valuable and important work that they do throughout the country. They currently engage about 130,000 young people in a range of challenging and positive activities, using military themes based on the culture and ethos of the armed forces. Cadet force adult volunteers, as used in the Bill, is the generic term adopted by the Ministry of Defence to refer to any adult who volunteers to assist alongside military personnel in the delivery of the MOD-sponsored cadet force programme. There are currently 26,000 such volunteers.

Clause 13 makes it clear that those adult volunteers do not qualify for the minimum wage. It does not affect those who perform work for the cadet forces in the course of Crown employment, nor does it affect any entitlement that cadet force adult volunteers may have to the minimum wage outside their activities as a cadet force adult volunteer.

The volunteers have a long tradition of offering their time and effort for free. However, along with the high level of responsibility that they take on in their quasi-military role, there are features of being a cadet force adult volunteer that might lead to their being deemed workers, and therefore deemed as coming under the remit of the minimum wage. For example, some of them undergo special security clearance, which includes signing the Official Secrets Act; some are trained to allow safe access to Ministry of Defence facilities and equipment, including firearms, often to the same level as members of the armed forces; and some sign personal declarations or agreements to undertake certain standards of behaviour on joining that could be misinterpreted as a form of  employment contract. Although there is no legal entitlement to remuneration, cadet force adult volunteers may be remunerated for attendance at weekend training and summer camps.

Those features are unique to the cadet forces. They stem from their alignment with the armed forces and enable their activities to take place in a military environment and to integrate with the military chain of command. Under the next clause, we will discuss the Bill as it affects volunteering more widely, but for the purposes of this clause, we wanted to make it clear, lest there was any doubt, that cadet force adult volunteers are doing a very valuable job, but it is a voluntary job that does not bring them into entitlement to the minimum wage.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire

Has the Minister or his Department received any representations from individuals who serve as cadet force adult volunteers saying that they should be entitled to the minimum wage?

Photo of Pat McFadden Pat McFadden Minister of State (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) (Employment Relations and Postal Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

We consulted on that. I do not think that there were a huge number of representations, but the MOD and the Government more widely were keen to clarify the situation. The exemption will allow the volunteers to continue to operate as successfully as they do now, while removing any doubt that exists about the minimum wage. It will enable them to continue to deliver what are very valuable and often exciting programmes of challenging developmental activity to young people throughout the country.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Justice), Shadow Solicitor General

We support the clause. We are aware of the grave concerns that these voluntary and very valuable cadet organisations have and their wish for the clause to be included. We recognise the huge benefit that these voluntary leaders provide and the contribution that they make to their communities and young people in this country.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 13 ordered to stand part of the Bill.