Table of contents

Basic rules

  • Eligible employees can take time off work without pay without risk of losing their job.
  • Employers must grant reservist leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back when the employee returns to work.
  • Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement.
  • Employees on reservist leave are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.

Employee eligibility

Employees are eligible for reservist leave if they are a reservist and have been employed at least 12 consecutive weeks with the same employer.

Employees with less than 12 consecutive weeks of employment may still be granted leave. However, their employers aren’t required under employment standards legislation to grant them leave.

Allowed operations and activities

An employee may take reservist leave for the following operations or activities:

  • deployment to a Canadian forces operation outside Canada
  • deployment to a Canadian forces operation inside Canada that is assisting with an emergency or the aftermath of an emergency
  • annual training, included related travel time
  • other operations set out as such in the Employment Standards Regulation by the Minister

Participation in pre - or post-deployment activities in connection with an operation is also considered part of deployment for the operation.

Length of leave

An eligible employee can take reservist leave for the length of time that is necessary for annual training or Canadian Forces operations.

Periods of leave do not have to be consecutive days.

Giving notice

Request for proof

An employer may request proof that an employee is entitled to reservist leave. If requested, the employee must give the employer a document from the employee’s commanding officer that lists:

  • that the employee is taking part in an operation of activity that qualifies for reservist leave,
  • the day on which the leave starts, and
  • the estimated or known length of the leave

Starting leave

Employees must give employers written notice of their intention to take reservist leave 4 weeks prior to the date the leave begins.

In the case of reservist leave for annual training, the notice must include the actual date on which the employee intends to return to work.

In all other cases, the notice must include the estimated date on which the employee intends to resume work.

If the employee is not able to give 4 weeks’ notice due to an urgent deployment, they must inform their employer in writing about the reservist leave as soon as is reasonable.

Ending leave

Employees on leave for 4 weeks or less must give written notice as soon as possible, which provides the day on which they intend to return to work.

Employees on leave for more than 4 weeks must give at least 4 weeks’ written notice of the day they intend to return to work.

If an employee does not give this notice, the employer may:

  • postpone the return to work for up to 4 weeks from the date that the employee informs them of their intention to return to work, and
  • the employee will be considered to remain on reservist leave until they return to work

Employees on reservist leave due to participation in annual training are not required to provide notice of return to work, since the notice of intention to take leave includes the date training is complete and the employee will return to work.

A reservist who doesn’t wish to resume employment after their reservist leave ends must give the employer at least 4 weeks’ written notice of their intention to terminate their employment.

Employers are not required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work the day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances.

Any employee who takes reservist leave must inform their employer in writing of any change in the length of the leave as soon as is reasonable.

Vacation days and pay

Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:

  • take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or
  • get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date

Termination of employment

Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on a job-protected leave unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business. In this case, employees can be terminated or laid off. The employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 52 weeks after their leave ends.

An employee who feels they have been improperly terminated can file an employment standards complaint.

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 7.1 of the Employment Standards 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.