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I'm over 18 - could I leave the army if I didn't like it? Print E-mail

Already in the army?  Go to Leaving the army.

Been in the army before?  If so, the rules are different for you - see 'I've been in the army before and am thinking of rejoining'.

The rules for leaving the army are complicated and legally binding - it's important you know about this so please read on.

You can no longer 'buy yourself out' of the armed forces.

If you wanted to leave the army, bear in mind that the army might try to persuade you to stay.

During the first six weeks of paid duty

You can't t leave during the first six weeks.  This is measured from your first day at work, which might be different from the date you enlisted.  If you want to leave the army after the first six weeks, you still need to hand in two weeks' notice in writing - you would need to do this after your first four weeks, so that you could leave after six weeks total (i.e. four weeks + two weeks notice = six weeks).

After the first six weeks and before three months from the date you enlisted

After the first six weeks and before three months have passed from the date of your enlistment, you can leave the army at two weeks' notice, which has to be given in writing to your Commanding Officer.

This is called 'Discharge as of Right' (DAOR) and if you left in this way you would be a civilian again and wouldn't have to serve in the Reserve.

You wouldn't have to explain your decision.

Note that the window between a) the end of your first six weeks of work and b) three months from the date you enlisted, is just a few weeks.  Once that window closes you lose your right to leave for nearly four more years.

After the first three months from the date of enlistment

The three month deadline for DAOR is absolute.  Once it has passed, adult recruits have no legal right to leave Regular Service until four years have passed since enlistment. In order to leave then you would have to give 12 months' notice (so, for example, if you wanted to leave after four years, you would have to give notice after three years).  The army can reduce your notice period by up to six months but this not a legal right - this change has to be decided within the first month of your notice period.

If you received extra training or education or another benefit from the army while serving, you might have to sign a form to extend your minimum term of Regular Service beyond four years from the date you enlisted.  The extension of the minimum term of Regular Service can be as much as six years in addition to the first four, although it is usually less - the extension is stated on the form.

Once you left Regular Service, you would be transferred to Reserve Service for six years or until you were 40, whichever came first.  This means that although you would have returned to civilian life after Regular Service, you could still be called out to serve on active duty or to train at any time.

Exceptions to all the above

If there were a time of 'imminent national danger', for example if the country were attacked, you may not be allowed to leave the army for the duration, whatever your circumstances.

If you tried to leave without the right to do so, you would be deemed Absent Without Leave (AWOL). This is an offence under military law and can be punished with a long prison term in some cases - it would also delay your legal right to leave Regular Service.

If you are thinking of joining the army, ask your recruiter to tell you in detail about the rules for leaving - it is very important that you know exactly what you would be signing up for.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 13:54

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