Reservist leave | fact sheet

Reservist leave | fact sheet

Eligible employees who are Reservists with the Canadian Forces can take unpaid, job-protected leave for training and deployments.

Basic rules

  • eligible employees can take time off work without risk of losing their job while:
    • participating in annual Reservist training,
    • deployed inside Canada to assist with an emergency, OR
    • deployed outside Canada (including any required pre-or post-deployment activities)
  • employers must grant Reservist leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back after they return to work
  • employees on reservist leave are considered to be continuously employed, for the purposes of calculating years of service

Employee eligibility

Employees must have at least 26 consecutive weeks of employment with their employer to be eligible for job-protected Reservist leave.

The employee must be a member of the reserve force of the Canadian Forces as referred to in the National Defence Act (Canada).

Length of leave

Annual training: up to 20 days each calendar year; these days may be taken non-consecutively.

Deployments: as long as necessary to accommodate the period of service required.

There are no restrictions on how often a Reservist can go on an international or domestic deployment.

More details

Show Answer Giving notice

Starting leave

Employees must give their employers at least 4 weeks’ written notice before the date the annual training or deployment will start, and provide the estimated or actual date of return.

If the Reservist is deployed in urgent circumstances and unable to give 4 weeks’ notice, they must give the employer written notice as soon as is reasonable.

Written proof

Employers can ask a Reservist to get written confirmation about the leave from the employee’s commanding officer, stating the following:

  • the Reservist is taking part or has taken part in an activity that’s eligible for leave
  • day on which leave will start or has started
  • estimated or actual length of the leave

The Reservist must give the letter to the employer once it’s received from their commanding officer.

Sample letters from reservists and commanding officers

Ending leave

Employees aren’t required to give written notice to end leave if they return to work on the date that was specified in the notice to start leave.

If the employee hasn’t already provided this information to the employer and the leave is for less than 4 weeks, the employee must give written notice of their return to work as soon as possible.

If an employee has been on leave for more than 4 weeks, the employee must provide at least 4 weeks’ written notice of their return to work.

Changing length of leave

Employees must give written notice of a change in the length of leave as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances, unless there’s a valid reason for not doing so. A valid reason might be a longer deployment than anticipated.


If an employee has been on leave for more than 4 weeks and hasn’t provided at least 4 weeks’ written notice of the return to work to the employer, employers can postpone the Reservist’s return to work for up to 4 weeks from the date of the Reservist’s notice. The employee is deemed to be on leave during the postponement period and cannot return to work until the day indicated in the postponement notice.

Employers don’t have the option to postpone an employee’s return to work if they’ve been on leave for less than 4 weeks.

If not returning to work

Employees must give at least 4 weeks’ written notice if they decide not to return to work after their leave ends.

Show Answer Wages, vacations and termination

Wages or benefits while on leave

Employers aren’t required to provide a paid leave of absence under the Code. However, an employment contract or collective agreement may provide an employee with wages or other benefits while on Reservist leave.

Vacation entitlements while on leave

Employees don’t earn vacation pay while on Reservist leave. Vacation and vacation pay earned prior to leave can be deferred until after the employee returns to work, with the employer’s agreement. The Reservist’s annual vacation may be pro-rated based on the length of time they were absent.

Termination of employment

Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on Reservist leave unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business. In this case, the employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 12 months after their leave ends.

An employee who has given notice to take Reservist leave can’t be terminated because of the notice. If this is the case, they can file an employment standards complaint.

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 7.1 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the rules for Reservist leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct..

Modified: 2018-01-02
PID: 13599