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Education Leave

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Education leave is time off to undertake full-time post-secondary studies for at least one academic year at a recognized university, community college or technical institute.

An academic year is two full program semesters, completed in succession, or completed within a 12-month period.

The number of opportunities for education leave with assistance is limited.  Preference is given to long-term employees at lower income levels who have limited career options.  Preference is also given to Affirmative Action applicants and long-term Northwest Territories residents.


You must have three years of continuous service before starting education leave.  This may be waived in unusual circumstances.

Education leave is only granted if there is evidence of satisfactory performance and potential for career development.  A current performance review is required.

Levels of Assistance for Education Leave

Assistance includes tuition, travel and one removal in and out 

Education leave is without salary.  However, allowances instead of salary may be paid:

Full Allowance 

  • 100% of present salary may be paid if your skills have become technically obsolete and retraining is needed to satisfactorily carry out the duties of your position.
  • 100% of present salary may be paid if qualified people cannot be recruited for essential work.

Partial Allowance

  • A minimum allowance equivalent to 50% of your present salary may be paid to meet an identified need rather than recruit outside the Government.  The decision is based on the most economical use of existing staff to capitalize on experience, knowledge and capability.
  • Recognizing that 50% of salary may prove a financial burden if you continue studies beyond a one year program, a 10% increase will be added to the allowance in each consecutive year of study, to a maximum of 80% of salary.

Assistance Without Allowance 

  • Assistance only, with no allowance in lieu of salary may be paid to further post-secondary education to obtain qualifications that are generally relevant to present or future requirements of the Government.


Applications for education leave are submitted to your Deputy Head.  For information regarding application guidelines and content, contact the Human Resource Service Centre in your region.   

Successful applicants must sign a leave of absence agreement.  Those granted education leave must sign an agreement to return to work after the leave to work for the Public Service in the Northwest Territories for a period equivalent to the leave taken.

Should you not fulfil this service commitment due to resignation, abandonment of position, rejection on probation for cause or termination for cause, you are indebted to the GNWT for the amount received pursuant to the signed agreement.  Your indebtedness shall be reduced on a prorated basis.

You must submit proof of acceptance at a recognized university or community college, along with a course outline, before you go on education leave.

If you have consecutive years of education leave, you will normally be required to return for temporary work assignments between academic years.  Travel costs and housing accommodation for temporary work assignments will be provided at single status only.

You do not earn leave credits while on education leave, except during periods of temporary work assignments.

Employees are not eligible to receive pay increments or economic increases while they are away from their duties on education leave.

Pension deductions will be based on the full salary for the position you held before education leave, and will be recovered from you in equal instalments over a period equal to twice as long as the absence.

Documentation and removal arrangements will be coordinated by the Employer.

Short Term Leave for Training Purposes

Your Deputy Head may grant short-term leave with or without pay to take advanced or supplementary training of less than one academic year.  The leave will be based on present and future job requirements, on individual qualifications, and the needs and interest identified by the employee and the Employer. 

Full or partial financial assistance and full or partial allowance may be granted if:

  • your skills have become technically obsolete and you need retraining to carry out your work satisfactorily; or
  • the courses are required for you to keep abreast of new knowledge and techniques in your field of work or to maintain certification; or
  • qualified people cannot be recruited to carry out essential work; or
  • your Deputy Head requires you to take the training; or
  • where needs for training have been identified as important for individual career development with the Public Service.

If you take short term leave for training with full or partial allowance, you must return to work for a period equivalent to the leave.  Should you not fulfil this service commitment due to resignation, abandonment of position, rejection on probation for cause or termination for cause, you recognize that you are indebted to the GNWT for the amount received pursuant to this provision. Your indebtedness shall be reduced on a prorated basis.

Leave Without Pay for Education Purposes

You may also be granted leave without pay (without allowance or assistance) for education purposes.  Approval is needed from your Deputy Head.

Courses Taken on Personal Time

Tuition fees for courses you take on your personal time may be refunded.  To qualify, you must show evidence of successful completion of the course.  The course must be of value to your work, and it must not require absence from duties.  You must obtain approval from your Deputy Head for reimbursement of tuition costs before you take the course.

Deputy Heads or their designate have the discretion to pay the course/tuition fees in advance.  Deputy Heads or their designates have the authority to waive the requirements for an employee to reimburse the Employer for tuition/course fees paid in advance in exceptional circumstances, or if there was some overall benefit from the training initiative.