UK firms targeted on anti-terror force plan

LONDON - The UK government is to target employers as it attempts to strengthen the role of the reserve forces in combating terrorism.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Defence announced it wanted to create a 6,000-strong, Home Guard-style reaction force, made up of reservists, to support civil emergency efforts should terrorists attack Britain.

This is likely to present a staffing headache for employers and has prompted the National Employers Liaison Committee (NELC) -- the agency that acts as a link between employers and the reserved forces -- to hire PR support for the first time.

Following a four-way COI-managed pitch, Fishburn Hedges has been hired on a 12-month contract to portray the positive arguments for having reservists, which include the Territorial Army (TA), on the payroll. This will also include promoting an NELC relaunch later this year.

Luke Blair, the F-H consultant working on the account, said: 'While the proposed new reaction forces are certainly part of the context of this account, they are not the leading factor. NELC's primary aim is to promote the value of all Britain's reserve forces.'

Part of the promotion campaign will include informing employers that financial help is available if firms incur additional costs from their employees being called up or volunteering for duty. This includes help in advertising and interviewing replacement staff.

Groups that the NELC liaises with include the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors.

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