For the first time in their history members of the Reserve Defence Forces will have their full-time jobs protected if they are called up to reinforce the regulars during times of emergency, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The legislation was cleared in the Dáil after being proposed by TDs Denis Naughton and Cathal Berry, a former second-in-command of the elite Army Ranger Wing (ARW).
For many years legislation was in place in America to protect employment for their reserves, known as the National Guard, and in Britain for its reserves, the Territorial Army.
Mr Barry said that, unlike many other European countries, up to now this was not the case in Ireland.
"They were never formally protected here. They relied on the goodwill of their employers to release them from their normal work. I know 95% of employers are good people, but there are some who would be unscrupulous and that's why this legislation is needed," Mr Berry said.
He described the lack of job protection as a "shambles" and said he couldn't understand why this was allowed to go on so long by the Department of Defence.
"The whole Covid-19 issue is a classic example of how the Reserves can be used during an emergency and then demobilised when it passes," he said.
Mr Berry, who is also a qualified medical doctor, said there are many highly-qualified people among the ranks of the Reserve Defence Forces and the government should be especially targeting those with medical experience.
"I know of a consultant anaesthetist who is a member of the Reserve Defence Forces. There are also four doctors and a number of advanced paramedics among their ranks and loads of EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians)," Mr Berry said.
The supposed minimum strength of the Reserve Defence Forces should stand at over 4,000. However, successive governments have let it run down in recent years and according to latest figures, there are roughly only 1,000 active members.
"This is an issue which has to be discussed at the next meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade & Defence. The committee should bring in senior Department of Defence officials and ask them to explain why this has been allowed to happen and why such a wonderful resource has been let run-down to that extent," Mr Berry said.