The Navy on Thursday announced details on the military’s new policy providing 12 weeks of parental leave to parents after birth, adoption or long-term foster care placement.
Before the change, new moms got six weeks of parental leave and six weeks of convalescent leave.
For the first time, the new policy also provides 12 weeks of parental leave to the parent who did not give birth.
“Navy family members are an integral part of our Navy Force, and the parental leave policy updates provide needed time for our Navy families to bond,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Rick Cheeseman said in a statement. “This is the right thing to do for our Sailors, and it brings the Navy in line with or ahead of many civilian workplaces.”
The policy change went into effect across the Defense Department on Dec. 29 and was included in the 2022 defense policy bill.
Under the new policy, the 12 weeks of leave must be taken within a one-year period after the event, according to the Navy.
It applies to all active-duty and some Navy Reserve sailors.
The naval administrative message lays out the official policy and how you can apply for it.
Qualifying events include giving birth, adopting a minor, or having a minor placed with the sailor for adoption or long-term foster care, or any combination of events.
Birth parents will be authorized the 12 weeks of parental leave after their convalescent leave, and dual-military couples can each take advantage of the leave option as well.
Sailors can take the leave in one continuous block or break it up into weekly increments.
And while parental leave must be used within a year, it can also be taken with ordinary leave, according to the Navy.
Generally, the Navy will require deployed sailors or sailors deploying within three months to defer some or all of the parental leave until the deployment ends, according to the Navy.
But commanders are authorized to approve the parental leave if they determine that the command’s readiness won’t be impacted by the member’s absence.
The parent who didn’t give birth will have to provide proof that they are a parent through records such as birth certificates, according to the NAVADMIN.
If deployment defers parental leave beyond the one-year window, commanders are authorized to extend the eligibility timeframe, according to the Navy.
Members who experience a birth, adoption or long-term foster placement after Dec. 27, 2022, are eligible for the new leave policy, and those who had unused caregiver leave under the old policy as of that date can receive the full 12 weeks as well, although that will require commanding office approval.
Moms will be able to defer their annual physical fitness assessment for up to 12 months following the birth of their child, but non-birth parents will not be able to use parental leave to skate on their fitness assessment, the NAVADMIN states.
No member will have their career negatively impacted if they opt to take this leave, the NAVADMIN states.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.