Leave arrangements

Reservists are entitled to be released for service or training in the Australian Defence Force 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.

In this section:

Applying for leave

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

To ensure your absence has as little impact as possible on your employer, you need to give plenty of notice AND be flexible on your Defence leave dates (if possible). 

Leave period

The amount of leave you may need when you're called for service, or training to prepare for that service, varies.

Leave for Defence service can include:

  • initial recruit training - allow up to 7 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 Defence Service.


What you can do to help your employer

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

  1. Plan your intended Defence Service around your civilian commitments, where possible.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your manager.
  3. Speak clearly and confidently.
  4. Identify the benefits of the proposed service or training exercise.
  5. Identify the benefits you'll bring back to your employer - for example, highlight skills such as time management and leadership.
  6. Put your rationale in writing.
  7. Inform your manager of the Employer Support Payment Scheme payments that your organisation may be eligible to claim.

    Employer Support Payment Scheme payments information

  8. Complete your internal leave form before the meeting, so it's ready for your manager's approval.
  9. 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.

Important! Whenever possible, don't cancel a course or other period of Defence service if your employer has already arranged / approved your leave.

Remember to give your employer plenty of notice … And thank them for their support!

Australian Government

Employers in Australian Public Service (APS) agencies and Commonwealth authorities and companies are required to have Reservist leave policies in place.

This means you can take leave for peacetime training or deployment without disadvantage.

Need more information?

Employment Bargaining Framework 

Leave policy contents

When undertaking service, your Commonwealth agency or authority would normally:

  • allow 4 weeks (20 working days / 28 calendar days) leave on full pay each year
  • allow an extra 2 weeks paid leave to attend recruitment or initial employment training
  • give you additional leave for service, either on a paid, unpaid or top-up pay basis
  • allow you to accumulate leave entitlements 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)
  • give you continued access to components of your remuneration package during periods of service (for example, superannuation (subject to the rules of the CSS, PSS and Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme), studies assistance, salary reviews and cars)
  • update you on workplace developments while undertaking service
  • actively promote the benefits of Reserve service to employees.

It's important your agency and authority leave policies must NOT:

  • force you to pay your tax-free Reserve salary to your employer under any circumstances.


What you can do to help your employer

Applying for leave information

Need more information?

Contact us

State and Territory Government

If you're employed by a State or Territory Government, you're entitled to Reservist leave policies that meet State and Territory legislation.

This means you can take leave for peacetime training or deployment without disadvantage.

Leave policy recommendations

Each State and Territory has different leave guidelines for Reservists.

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

Australian Government leave guidelines

Australian Public Service Bargaining Framework 


Specific State & Territory leave guidelines:


Local Government

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

This means Reservists can take leave for peacetime training or deployment without disadvantage. 

Model leave policy

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

Australian Government leave guidelines

Defence Reserves Support - South Australia (DRS-SA) and the South Australian Local Government Association have designed a model leave policy for local governments across Australia.

You can use this to create a Reservist leave policy for your local government organisation.

Get the model leave policy brochure.

Local Council Leave Guidelines (PDF, 2121kb)

SA-specific leave policy brochure.

SA Local Council Leave Guidelines (PDF, 134kb)

Private Sector

If you work in the private sector, we encourage you to be aware of your employer's leave policies.

If your employer hasn't implemented a leave policy for Reservists, you should offer to help them draft one.

And remember to outline the benefits of employing a Reservist.

Help your employer to develop a supportive policy for Reservists

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

Guidelines & templates:

The guidelines encourage your employer 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.

The ideal policy should:

  • Grant 2 weeks (10 working days / 14 calendar days) service leave each year (at a minimum) in addition to your annual leave.

This can be either paid or unpaid leave or on top-up pay.

  • Provide access to additional leave for service or training if required by the Australian Defence Force.
  • Support you during your first year of service. This helps you to develop the necessary competency skills and qualifications through training.
  • Ensure absence on Defence service doesn't affect your job opportunities, including the chance for promotion.
  • Preserve access to other entitlements when you're absent on service or training.

This includes, counting periods of leave without pay as service for accrual of annual leave and long service leave entitlements. This excepts where such periods are rendered as Continuous Full Time Defence Service (CFTS).

  • Commit to provide ongoing job opportunities and benefits to you (matching the job opportunities and benefits of other employees).
  • Review your salary or conditions along with other employees (if a periodic review is done when you're absent on service or training).

If a new workforce agreement is signed during your absence, you should be considered as an employee for the purposes of that agreement.

  • Actively address your re-integration into the workforce, without detriment, after deployment or absence on military exercises including training.


  • Make sure every level of management in your organisation is aware of the policy.
  • Tell your employer about your accomplishments, so they can include them in newsletters and other publications.

Employer Support Payment Scheme

Your employer might be eligible for Employer Support Payment Scheme payments to help offset the costs of releasing you for Defence service.

Under the Scheme, they're paid for eligible Defence service at average weekly earnings (regardless of your salary). However, in special circumstances they may be able to apply for higher payments.

Employer Support Payment Scheme payment information

Need more information and help?

1800 803 485

Note:The template policy is a minimum standard. It shouldn't constrain your employer from pursuing best practice and providing additional support such as paid leave or top-up pay for service or training.

Protected & unprotected Continuous Full Time Service (CFTS)

Ordinary Reserve service (Reserve service undertaken as normal peacetime training or service and remunerated using Reserve training salaries) is protected Defence service.

Voluntary CFTS is also protected Defence service if the relevant Service Chief or delegate designates the service as protected service under section 12 of the provisions of the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001.

Voluntary CFTS that the relevant Service Chief or delegate does not designate as protected service under section 12 of the provisions of the Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001 is unprotected Defence service.

All ADF Reserve Service is protected from discrimination under the provision of part 4 of the Act.

Want more information?

Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001

Last update: Monday, 5 September 2016