Reserve Service Protection

In 2001, the Australian Government introduced legislation to protect Defence Reservists undertaking various forms of Reserve service.

The Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001 makes it an offence for an employer to discriminate against, disadvantage, hinder or dismiss an employee or prospective employee for rendering Defence service. Protections also apply to contractors and partners and in certain circumstances to students enrolled in a course of instruction at an Australian education institution.

The Act also requires employers to release employees who are Defence Reservists to undertake Defence service. The Act not only makes it mandatory for employers to release their Reservists for service, but also for the required training to prepare them for that service.

That said, neither the Government, nor the Australian Defence Force, wants to impose unreasonable burdens on employers. As a Reservist you also have obligations to your employers. For instance, you should always attempt to give your employer reasonable notice of your requirement to perform Defence service. If your employer has significant and legitimate problems releasing you, they are encouraged to speak with you and your Unit Commanding Officer.

If this does not resolve the issue, your employer can contact Employer Support and Service Protection (ESSP).

The Act may be found here: Defence Reserve Service (Protection) Act 2001 and Forms & Publications for further information.


For further information you can call the Office of Reserve Service Protection on:

1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362) or email


Last update: Tuesday, 4 February 2020

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