Navy adds flexibility to parental leave policy

Seaman Cody Slone, left, Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Morcom and Seaman Chase Marr show pictures of their newborn babies from their cellphones aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey. The Navy announced a new parental leave plan on Thursday.


By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 22, 2018

Navy couples will now decide which parent gets primary caregiver leave under a new parental and adoption leave policy.

The rules announced Thursday allow six weeks of maternity convalescent leave for sailors giving birth, beginning after they leave hospital, along with six weeks leave for the primary caregiver. Secondary caregiver leave has risen from 10 to 14 days, according to a Navy statement.

Birth mothers received a block of 12 weeks maternity leave prior to the change.

The policy consolidates adoption, paternity and maternity leave into a Military Parental Leave Program planned for future release.

All leave periods are nonchargeable and must be used all at once within the first year of a birth or adoption, according to a Navy statement.

Sailors on or within three months of an operational deployment can defer their leave period until after the deployment. Deployed time will not be counted against them for the one-year expiration date, the statement said.

Commanding officers can authorize sailors to take parental leave while deployed for extenuating circumstances and where operational requirements may allow.

All active-duty sailors, reserve sailors in active duty assignments or mobilized for more than 12 continuous months, and parents of a qualifying birth or adoption on or after Dec. 23, 2016, can utilize the new leave rules.

In 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a Defense Department-wide 12-week maternity leave policy.

The Air Force and Marines updated their policies earlier this month, while the Army last updated their policy in 2016.

Soldiers can receive up to a total 12 weeks of maternity leave, more than double the previous policy, and birth mothers become nondeployable for six months. Secondary caregivers are still only allowed 10 days of nonchargeable administrative leave.

Airmen had their maternity leave cut in half from 12 to six weeks, but are now allotted an additional six weeks of leave for the primary caregiver and three weeks for the secondary caregiver.

Marines also had their maternity leave reduced from 12 to six weeks but gained six weeks of primary caregiver leave, which they can delay for up to a year. Secondary caregivers received an increase from 10 to 14 days.

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Ensign Rhonaka Williams, a nurse at Naval Hospital Jacksonville?s maternal infant unit, reviews discharge instructions with Machinist?s Mate 3rd Class Danesha Jones and Machinist?s Mate 3rd Class Tyreke Jones after the birth of their baby boy. The Navy announced a new parental leave plan on Thursday.