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Pay and Conditions

ADF Member's Guide

ADF Bonuses

Sometimes skills become critical to Defence. If you have these skills or move into such a role, you may get a bonus. If you get a bonus, you may have additional obligations.

When can I get a bonus?

You may get a bonus if you:

  • are a member of the Permanent Forces, or
  • are a member of the Reserves on continuous full-time service


  • have completed an initial minimum period of service, and
  • are not on a Return of Service obligation.

There are bonuses for the following critical skills:

  • Medical and dental officers: Division 3
  • Certain members in the Submarine Arm of the Navy: Division 3
  • Navy - Electronics Technical (junior sailor): Division 4
  • Navy - Marine Technical and Electronics Technical (sailor): Division 5
  • ADF Gap year: Division 6
  • Army – High Readiness Reserve: Division 7
  • Air Force – High Readiness Reserve: Division 8
  • Navy – Individuals critical to Navy capability: Division 9
  • Army – 1st Recruit Training Battalion recruit instructors: Division 10
  • Medical Officers professional development: Division 11
  • Army – Targeted rank and employment category: Division 12

When can't I get a bonus?

You may not get a bonus if you:

  • are medically unfit for a period of two years or more
  • have less than two years until the end of your service, or
  • have been given a notice of termination.

How long do I have to serve to get a bonus?

You must serve in a critical role for between one and three years to get a bonus.

This period will be included in your offer. It must be served as effective service.

What does effective service mean?

Effective service means it is paid, continuous full-time service. Some types of leave may affect the period of effective service. This includes:

  • part-time leave without pay
  • leave at half pay
  • leave without pay
  • maternity leave without pay
  • absent without leave
  • service for another bonus payment
  • imprisonment, detention, suspension from duty without pay
  • superannuation further service, and
  • Return of Service obligation.

What happens if I transfer in from another bonus?

If you transfer in from another bonus, you may not complete the agreed period of service for the bonus. You may get a pro-rata amount for that bonus.

What happens if I don’t complete the agreed period of service?

You may not complete the agreed period of service. You won’t have to repay the bonus if:

  • the reason is beyond your control
  • you are transferred to the Reserves at your Service Chief’s initiative, or
  • you completed the period of service in another position, employment category or specialisation (this may be due to restructure, a service initiated move, or promotion).

You may have to repay the full bonus if you don’t complete the agreed period of service because you voluntarily:

  • transfer out of the service
  • transfer to the Reserves, or
  • apply to terminate service in the Permanent Forces.

You may also have to repay the full bonus if your service is terminated for performance or disciplinary reasons.

What factors must I consider as a decision-maker?

Before you offer a bonus to a member or class of member, you must consider whether:

  • there is evidence of a workforce structure shortage
  • failure to retain the member may result in a critical capability shortage
  • the number of personnel in that employment category or specialisation is falling
  • the member fills a position essential to the delivery of service capability, or
  • the member holds or has applied to achieve qualifications and skills essential to the delivery of service capability.

You must also consider:

  • how long the workforce shortage may last for
  • what has been done to fix the workforce shortage in the long term
  • market forces contributing to the shortage, or
  • productivity improvement resulting from the bonus payment.

More information about the bonus framework can be found in Chapter 3 Part 5.

Important information

As the name suggests, this Member's Guide is designed as a guide to help you understand how your pay and conditions work. It is not a legal document. Therefore, if there is any conflict between the Member's Guide and Defence Determination 2016/19, Conditions of Service (and the Determinations made by the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal), as compiled in PACMAN, PACMAN is the authority.

This Member's Guide does not incorporate or make provision for members on a flexible service determination.

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Who do I contact

Defence Service Centre

1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362)

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