Employing reservists: What you need to know

by 25 Jun 2013

Australia’s reservists take part in a number of different tasks, from helping out with natural disasters to overseas operations and event security. They have a lot on their plate and a lot to worry about, but Defence Reserves Support ensures that their employer doesn’t.

Australia’s Department of Defence provides The Employer Support Payment Scheme (ESPS) to assist employers when an employee is absent due to reserve-related work.

The amount of time an employee will be absent from work can range from two weeks (annual training) to eight months (deployment).

The ESPS is a financial assistance payment made to organisations weekly. The rate is set yearly based on the average full-time weekly adult earnings. All organisations and full-time employees are eligible. Part-time and casual employees qualify in some circumstances.

Additionally, there are other incentives to employing reservists. Gill Rees, executive general manager of HR at Bankwest told HC that reservists are a value to his company.

“Success in military activities requires good planning, great teamwork and acceptance of responsibility; all attributes that contribute to success in business,” Rees said.

Bankwest, like many other organisations, employ a high number of reservists. However, Bankwest do not access the ESPS regularly, but acknowledge its importance to organisations that may require it.

“We are very flexible in accommodating [reservists] requirements including regular training commitments and supporting those reservists on long placements in active service. The approach we take with our reservists is consistent with Bankwest's focus on supporting the communities which our customers and colleagues are part of,” Rees explained.

Although all workers can acquire skills and attitudes throughout their lives and work, Rees feels that a candidate being a reservist is a good indication of what they will be like in the workplace. “People who are prepared to give service to their community or their country are great to have in a customer-focused business,” he said. “Defence Force reservists fit very comfortably into our corporate culture.”


According to the Defence Force’s employer handbook, the criteria to qualify for ESPS payments is as follows:

  • The employee’s period of claimed Defence service must be five consecutive days or more.
  • The employee must have served a two-week qualifying period in the current financial year.
  • The employer must submit claims within six months of the first day of service for which the claims are being made.
  • The employer must release the employee on “Defence leave” to undertake the Defence service. They must not be required to take their own accrued leave entitlements.
  • The employer must agree to protect the employee’s job during their absence.



  • by A 25/06/2013 3:07:28 PM

    What is the current "average full-time weekly adult earnings"? I am looking into join the reserves and this information would be particularly helpful to have.
    Thanks in advance!

  • by Cameron 25/06/2013 3:56:50 PM

    Hi A,

    From the Defense services' website:

    ESPS payments are based on average weekly full-time adult ordinary time earnings (AWOTE), as published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the payment rate applies for a 12 month period, commencing on 01 July each year.

    The standard ESPS full-time weekly payment rate for financial year 2012 / 13 is $1,345.20.

    Higher level payment rates may be authorised in the case of substantial financial hardship / loss, or claims under CDF Capability related Approvals.

    Unless the Reservist is also in full-time employment, ESPS payments are payable to employers of part-time employees on a pro rata basis.

    After the annual qualifying period has been completed, the employer is eligible to receive an amount equivalent to the AWOTE (or a pro rata amount for a part-time employee) for each completed week of eligible continuous Defence service. Partially completed weeks are also eligible for a pro rata payment where they adjoin completed weeks of continuous Defence service.

    Keep in mind this changes every financial year, so look out for an update next week!

  • by Margaret 25/06/2013 4:00:11 PM

    According to the ABS, as at November 2012 the full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings was $1 393.00

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