Secondary caregivers in the Navy may now take up to 21 consecutive days leave following the birth or adoption of a child — up from 14 consecutive days.

“Navy is dedicated to supporting our new parents, and we fully understand that our families are as much a part of our service as our Sailors,” said Vice Adm. John Nowell Jr., the chief of naval personnel, in a Navy news release.

Secondary caregiver refers to person who has parental responsibility for a child but is not the parent who is identified as the primary caregiver and may be staying at home with that child.

The policy also applies to the Marine Corps, which said the change aims to improve “Marine and family readiness, as well as recruiting, retention, and overall talent management of the force.”

But all service members are on the brink of receiving even more time with their family following the birth or adoption of a child.

Nowell said the change is an “interim solution while we await more significant changes anticipated as part of [the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act],” which includes a provision to increase paid parental leave to 12 weeks for all service members.

For now, the Navy and Marine Corps’ expansion of parental leave to 21 days is consistent with the Air Force and Army’s secondary caregiver policies.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro signed off on the policy change Feb. 11, and the order took effect immediately. Those who have had a qualifying birth event or qualifying adoption and haven’t taken leave as of Feb. 11 are eligible for 21 days, but those who have already taken their leave are not authorized any additional days.

The Navy last updated its secondary caregiver leave policy in 2018, when it increased the maximum amount from 10 days to 14 days.

President Biden signed the authorization bill into law in December, but funding is stalled until the Congress passes the defense appropriations bill.

The government is currently operating on a continuing resolution extending FY21 funding levels until March 11.

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