I'm in the army now! - defence reserve leave


I'm in the army now! - defence reserve leave

The legislation overrides any provision contained in an industrial instrument or contract of employment.


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The legislation overrides any provision contained in an industrial instrument or contract of employment. Employers are also reminded that the federal Workplace Relations Act makes it unlawful to dismiss any employee because of their participation in Defence Force Reserves activities. Similar provisions exist in some state workplace relations statutes.

The federal Department of Defence has also issued guidelines for private sector employers who employee Defence Reservists. The following is a summary of the main issues relating to defence reserve leave.

Amount of training

For Army Reservists, this is generally two full weeks per year and one weekend per month. For Navy and Air Force Reservists, the minimum training requirement is 32 days per year.


Reservists can be called-out for the defence of Australia at times other than declared war or defence emergency.

There are specific conditions that apply to this type of call-out such as the proclamation that must be made by the Governor-General. Reservists are bound to serve for a period directed by their Service Chief, but are to be released as soon as practical after 12 months service and, once released, cannot be required to serve again for a period of time equal to the period they have already served. In periods of declared war and defence emergency, all Reservists may be bound to serve indefinitely. Participation in peacekeeping operations is normally on a volunteer basis.

Effect on contract of employment

The contract of employment is suspended whilst the employee is absent on defence service, unless it is terminated earlier according to law. An employment contract may be terminated if the employee does not apply to resume the employment within 30 days of finishing defence service.

Other leave

Where the employment contract indicates an entitlement to another form of leave, such as annual leave, the employer cannot require the employee to use this other form of leave.

Discrimination in employment

The Act prohibits discrimination against employees simply because they are members of the Defence Reserves. The employer is not allowed to refuse to employ someone because they are performing a defence service or may in the future volunteer for such service. An employer who breaches this provision will be guilty of an offence and may be fined.

The employer must not adversely change an employee's conditions of employment, discriminate against an employee in his or her terms and conditions of employment, or dismiss an employee.

Guidelines for private sector employers

The Federal Department of Defence has developed guidelines for private sector employers, in consultation with the Defence Reserves Support Council, which are designed to enable the release of Defence Reservists from private sector employment to fulfil their training and service obligations - see link below. A separate policy for the public sector also exists .

Defence force reserve: private sector leave guidelines released 


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