The Defence Act and Defence Forces Regulations set out the conditions of service for enlisted personnel and commissioned officers of the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force.
The terms of enlistment for persons enlisted to the Permanent Defence Force after 1 January 1994 are 5 years in the Permanent Defence Force and 7 years in the Reserve Defence Force.
Defence Forces Regulations provide for the discharge by purchase of enlisted personnel of the PDF before completion of their terms of enlistment. The financial cost for discharge after 3 months service for a line Private Grade 1 is €50. The financial cost for discharge by purchase of a line 3 star Private is €300.
Commissioned officers receive their commissions from the President and this can be for a fixed period or unlimited (until an officer reaches the prescribed retirement age). The discharge by purchase arrangements do not apply to commissioned officers who must seek permission to retire if they wish to do so before the prescribed retirement age or before their commission expires.
Enlisted personnel or officers may undertake training or education which have specified undertakings. The nature of the undertaking varies across training and education courses and generally requires individuals who undertake such training or education to commit to a specified length of service or, if exiting the Defence Forces before this service is completed, pay a prescribed sum of money.
For example Air Corps Pilots, have a service undertaking of 12 years on completion of their Wings Course. The individual officer retains financial liability for early termination of the service undertaking (for voluntary retirement) and calculations are carried out on an individual basis.
Cadets who are commissioned as officers, who go on to attend 3/4 year courses at third level, sign an undertaking based on the duration of the course they study. This also applies to Naval Service Cadet Courses. A service of 2 years is required for each academic year. Therefore, a service obligation of 6 years is required for a course of study of 3 years duration. An officer signs a Generic Undertaking Form (GUF) upon commencing a third level course. This form contains the details of his/her contractual obligations, both service and costs. A GUF is unique to each officer and all GUF's differ.