As part of a couple of new rule changes under the new parental and adoption leave policy, sailors will now be able to decide which parent receives primary caregiver leave, the Navy announced Thursday.
Prior to the policy change, birth mothers were able to take a period of 12 weeks of maternity leave.
Under the new policy, sailors giving birth are allowed six weeks of maternity convalescent leave, a time period that begins after they leave the hospital after giving birth. The primary caregiver is given six additional weeks of parental leave, while the secondary caregiver gets 14 days of leave, Previously, secondary caregivers had 10 days.
According to the statement, the leave time is completely nonchargeable. Additionally, the periods must be used all at once within a year of a birth or adoption.
Other changes have to do with deployment. Sailors on or within three months of deployment can defer their leave period until after the deployment.
However, commanding officers can still authorize sailors to take parental leave while deployed.
This is one step of many stemming from 2016, when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a DoD-wide 12-week maternity leave policy.
Since then, beyond the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines have also updated their parental leave policies.
The Marine policy is identical to the new Navy policy, but the Air Force differs from the other two in that the secondary caregiver can take three weeks instead of 14 days.
The Army last updated their parental and adoption leave policy in 2016.