Leave Arrangements

Under the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001, employers must release Reservists when they are required to undertake periods of Reserve service including any training to prepare for that service.

When administering leave, an employer may request written notification from the ADF regarding the leave being applied for. The ADF has a standardised form called an AE 380, Tri-Service Notice of ADF Reserve Service and this form is used by the Navy, Army and Air Force.

The form is in two parts, the first part provides the details of the intended Reserve service while the second part provides confirmation that the Reserve service was completed. Employers are encouraged to introduce leave policies for staff who are also Reservists.

Australian Government leave guidelines

Supportive Employers in Australian Public Service (APS) agencies and Commonwealth authorities and companies must have leave policies for Reservists.

As part of the guidelines, the APS provides paid ADF Reserve Leave for employees to undertake Reserve service. The number of weeks Reserve leave may vary from department to another

This means Reservists may take leave for some or all of their ADF Reserve service without using other forms of leave.

Need more information?

Australian Public Service Commission

Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework

Also see:

  • Responsibilities of employing a Reservist
  • When a Reservist is called for service

Reservist leave policies for APS Agencies and Commonwealth authorities and companies are encouraged to adopt the Australian Government Leave Guidelines.

You may like to include-

  • allow 4 weeks (20 working days / 28 calendar days) leave on full pay each year for Reservists undertaking service
  • allow an extra 2 weeks paid leave for Reservists to attend recruitment or initial employment training
  • include additional leave for service, either on a paid, unpaid or top-up pay basis
  • allow Reservist leave entitlements to accumulate and be taken over a 2-year period
  • define leave for service (with or without pay) as service for all purposes (except when a period or periods of Continuous Full Time Defence Service doesn't count as service for annual leave accrual)

Reservist leave policies for APS Agencies and Commonwealth authorities and companies must not force Reservists to pay their tax-free Reserve salary to their employer unless the payment of the Reserve salary forms part of a Top-Up Pay agreement.

State and Territory Government

State and Territory Government employers are encouraged to have leave policies for their employees who are also Reservists.

Also see:

  • Employing a Reservist
  • When a Reservist is called for service

Each State and Territory has different leave guidelines for Reservists.

For overarching leave guidelines, look at the Australian Government leave guidelines.

Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework

Specific State and Territory leave guidelines:

Local Government

Local Government employers are encouraged to have leave policies for their employees who are also Reservists.

Also see:

  • Tips for employee Reservist
  • Right to serve as a Reservist

For overarching leave guidelines, look at the Australian Government arrangements.

You can use the Australian Government Leave Guidelines to create a Reservist leave policy for your local government organisation. The amount of leave granted can be modified to suit organisational need.  

Private sector

Private sector employers are encouraged to have leave policies for their employees who are also Reservists

Also see:

  • Right to serve as a reservist
  • Tips for employee reservists

The Defence Reserves Support Council (DRSC), which includes private sector members, has developed leave guidelines for private sector employers.

Download the following documents:

  • Private sector leave guidelines
  • Private sector leave policy template
  • Private sector covering letter

Under the guidelines, you're encouraged to create a separate leave policy for Reservists. The policy should take into account Reserve service and training commitments.

It should also acknowledge that Reserve training enhances job performance and contributes to national security.

A supportive policy should include the following:

  • Grant 2 weeks (10 working days / 14 calendar days) ADF Reserve service leave each year (at a minimum) in addition to the employee's annual leave.
  • The ADF Reserve service leave can be either paid leave (Full pay or Top-Up pay) or unpaid leave in line with current legislation.
  • Provide access to additional leave for Defence service if required by the Australian Defence Force
  • Support Reservists during their first year of service including recruit training. This means the Reservist can develop the necessary competency skills and qualifications through training.
  • Ensure absence on Defence service doesn't affect your employee's job opportunities, including the chance for promotion.
  • Preserve access to other entitlements during absences on Defence service.

This includes counting periods of leave without pay as service for accrual of annual leave and long service leave entitlements up to a pre-determined period, for example, up to six weeks of unpaid leave per year may count towards the accrual of annual or long service leave etc.

Make sure every level of management in the organisation is aware of the policy.

Applying for Leave

Reservists must be released to undertake Reserve service, including training without disadvantage under the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001.

Whether you're a public or private sector employee or partner, find out what's expected of you and what you're entitled to.

When you undertake Reserve service, you may elect to take leave from your civilian job.

To reduce the impact your absence will have on your employer, you need to give them as much notice as possible and when you can do so, be flexible with your Defence leave dates.

Leave periods required

The amount of leave you may need to apply for when required to undertake Reserve service will vary.

Leave for Defence service can include:

  • initial recruit training - allow up to 7 weeks
  • Initial employment training – allow a minimum of 2 weeks
  • annual exercises / camps - allow up to 2 weeks
  • specialist courses - varies by course, allow up to 12 weeks
  • deployment for service - varies, allow up to 8 months
  • general Reserve service

What you can do to help your employer

We recommend you have a written plan in place before approaching your employer to ask for leave.

  • Plan your intended Reserve service around your civilian commitments, where possible.
  • Speak with your ADF Unit to work out what you’re ADF Reserve service commitmants will be for the next 6-12 months.
  • Write down all the benefits that your Reserve service will bring back to your civilian employment for example the training experience and networking etc.
  • Break down the training you receive so it is easy for your employer to understand, for example: leadership, time management, first aid, fire fighting, work health and safety, equity and diversity etc. Write these in your plan.
  • Schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your intended ADF Reserve service commitments for the next 6-12 months.

  • Inform your manager that you will provide them with written notification from the ADF each time you are required to undertake ADF Reserve service. In most cases this notification will be on an AE 380, Tri Service Notification of ADF Reserve service.
  • Inform your manager of the Employer Support Payment Scheme (ESPS) payments that your organisation may be eligible to claim.

Employer Support Payment Scheme payments information

  • Complete your internal leave form before the meeting, so it's ready for your manager's approval.

  • Attach your AE 380, Tri Service Notification of ADF Reserve Service form to your leave application
  • If the timing for your leave doesn't suit your employer, have alternative solutions ready or dates in mind for your manager to think about if possible. Where possible try to negotiate dates and times.
  • Whenever possible, do not cancel a course or other period of Defence service if your leave has already been arranged / approved by your employer. In the event that you have to cancel approved leave, ask a senior member from your ADF chain of command to make a courteous call to your employer to explain why the change has taken place. This will be highly regarded by your employer and make it easier for you to re-schedule your leave.
  • Important! If you feel like you have been unfairly treated in gaining release or at any stage of your employment, try to work it out with your employer. In the event that your efforts are unsuccessful, let your ADF unit know and seek their support. Both you and your ADF unit can contact ORSP at any time for assistance and guidance on how best to resolve potential issues with your employer.
  • On your return to work, it is very important to emphasise the skills and experience you gained from your ADF reserve service and how you will use these in your job.
  • Your employer may also like to advertise your achievements in newsletters and other publications. We are happy to help out with this if required.
  • And remember to always thank them for their support. Why not consider putting your employer forward for an award as a supportive employer?



Last update: Monday, 20 March 2017

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