The challenges faced by Service personnel are amplified for dual serving families; the suitability and timing of postings, taking leave at the same time, dual deployments, navigating the housing when you aren’t co-located and sourcing appropriate childcare.
While it’s great having a partner that understands the nature of service life, when it comes to balancing career progression and family life it can be a struggle.
Career management tips for dual serving couples
- Engage with your Career Manager(s) early – this is key!
- Ensure your PStat Cat 1s or 5s (see below information form JSP 464) and employee preferences for assignments are appropriately recorded on JPA
- Where possible, identify a posting solution and bring it to your Career Manager(s)
- Keep your Career manager updated on your spouse/partner’s situation, when managed by a different desk
- Be prepared to compromise
- Understand how other employment policies can complement your assignments, e.g. Alternative Working Arrangements, Flexible Service, Shared Parental Leave, Enhanced Leave, Wraparound Childcare, Career Intermissions, Remote Working, etc.
- Understand that at times the couple will have to decide whose career will ‘lead’ to gain co-location as career opportunities arise
Dual serving and long term relationships
If you are a dual serving couple in a long term relationship it is important you formally establish your long term relationship (LTR). To do this you complete and submit a form to the Authorising Officer along with the required documentary evidence of your relationship.
For dual serving couples living in SLA it may be difficult to provide the requisite evidence. If you are unable to provide the specified evidence but you believe you can provide compelling alternative evidence to demonstrate your LTR, you need to submit casework providing alternative evidence and justification – via Unit HR to the Chain of Command (CoC).
We strongly advise individuals engage with their HR Centre at the earliest point in the process to clarify what evidence would be acceptable to support their casework.
Find out about LTR and Surplus SFA >
The JSP 464 (publishing.service.gov.uk) states:
Paragraph 0313. Both spouse/civil partners are serving members of the Armed Forces. When both spouse/civil partners are serving members of the Armed Forces either at the same or different duty stations, one spouse/civil partner is designated as PStatCat 1s and the other spouse/civil partner is designated as PStatCat5s (as defined in JSP 752 Chapter 2 Section 2):
- The spouse/civil partner designated as PStatCat1s has the entitlement to SFA which they may exercise at their duty station. The spouse/civil partner designated as PStatCat 5s has no entitlement to SFA (but is entitled to SLA if they declare their intention to serve unaccompanied at a different duty station).
- Where a Service couple have duty stations within 100 miles (travelling distance) of each other, the Cat 1s may apply on an eligible basis for surplus SFA at the midway point between the duty station of the Cat 1s and the Cat 5s when both of the following criteria are met:
- Surplus SFA is available at a location midway between the two duty stations (there is no entitlement to SSFA); and
- Where the location of the SFA at the Cat 1s duty station precludes the Cat 5s from commuting to their place of duty.
How we represent dual serving couples
Eligibility and Entitlement Review
The recently published Armed Forces Families Strategy 2022-32 includes an Armed Forces Families Strategy Action Plan. We sit on the Armed Forces Families Steering and Working Groups and we are advocating for policy changes.
We have highlighted the challenges of being a Long Term Relationships (LTR) dual serving couple versus being married, due rules around allowances and overseas postings. There is work ongoing for the Eligibility and Entitlement Review that is due to report March 2023 that should address some of this – it looks at a variety of aspects of serving, not just those with children.
Haythornthwaite Review of Armed Forces Incentivisation
The Haythornthwaite Review of Armed Forces Incentivisation is a comprehensive look into military reward and the wider ‘offer; which is due to report in Spring 2023. This is an independent review outside the annual Armed Forces Pay Review Body work. We have spoken with the Chair, Geoff Haythorthwaite to discuss the challenges of maintaining two careers in the military, including aspects such as co-location and childcare.
Access to dental care
We have raised the current challenge of access to dental care for children of dual serving couples, as some practices insist a parent is registered with them – a significant challenge if you are serving. We are currently working with the senior representatives within the MOD and NHS on this.