The new year brought a long-awaited new parental leave policy to members of the Army, and it’s a big one for families and parents to be.
Expansion of parental leave under the National Defense Authorization Act
Starting in late December, all members of all services, including the Army, whether they are a birthing parent, an adoptive parent, or a spouse, will get a significant increase in the time they can take off following the birth of a child.
Everyone is now eligible to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave within the first year, and it can be spread out in multiple chunks.
All military parents will be eligible for 12 weeks of family leave following the birth or adoption of a child under the new National Defense Authorization Act. In addition, the act requires all services to provide paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers.
The policy change means that all service members are eligible for 12 weeks of leave for the birth, adoption, or long-term fostering of a child. That leave will be non-chargeable, meaning it doesn’t count against other leave allowances. In addition, mothers will still be eligible for maternity leave as well as parental leave. So it’s time to do some planning to take them together.
That’s a significant bump from the current parental leave policy, which across the services generally allowed for six weeks of convalescent leave, followed by six weeks of bonding leave for birthing parents, with variations of up to three weeks for non birthing parents.
Congress mandated the change as part of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, normalizing parental leave policies across the services and, for the first time, giving equal bonding time to both partners.
Now, both partners can double their allowable leave or more and spread it out how they see fit. The policy applies to any babies welcomed after December 27th.
Any non birthing spouses who took less than their prior leave allotment for children welcomed in 2022 have until their child’s first birthday to take any remaining leave up to 12 weeks.
What the latest policy needs to include is clear guidance for convalescent leave. Previously, military maternity leave comprised six weeks to recover from delivery and another six weeks for bonding.
The new policy covers only the bonding portion of that leave, with the provision to take convalescent leave if a doctor recommends it for a diagnosed medical condition.
Also, note that not all of the services have implemented their own individual parental leave policies yet. For instance, the Army is still waiting to put out its guidance.
Everyone gets 12 weeks. Whether you’re adopting, whether you’re the birth parent, or whether you’re the nonbirth parent,
If you’re a parent of a child that’s been acquired in some form or fashion, you are getting 12 weeks of non-chargeable leave, and this is a good change.
So as someone who got 10 paternity leave days and then, with my last child, got 14 days and 12 weeks, that sounds fantastic.
Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act on December 27th, 2021.
But on the 19-page summary document that the Senate released, on the third page is a section for families.
And the second bullet point says that in the NDAA for 2022, the Department of Defense Budget for the fiscal year is increasing parental leave to 12 weeks. Now, that also includes parental leave for fathers.
The best part is that the leave is for a spouse having a child, a surrogate having a child, adoption, and foster care placement. As we know, being a parent requires a lot of commitment, and of course, you want to have an attachment to the child.
This parental leave will be a significant change. However, it might be a logistical nightmare. So if you’re pregnant, advocate early. As we know, a petition has to get a lot of signatures.
If you don’t get it immediately due to deployment, workups, or whatever else might be going on, if you don’t get the parental leave soon, you’ll get it later. It is now a part of the law, so advocate for yourself when doing that.
Table: Comparison of Parental Leave Policies
|Policy Aspect||Previous Policy||New Policy|
|Parental Leave Duration||6 weeks (birthing parent)||12 weeks|
|Up to 3 weeks (non-birthing parent)|
|Leave Type||Convalescent & Bonding||Non-rival Parental Leave|
|Maternity Leave||Included||Separate from Paternal|
Army Parental Leave Regulation Policy Directive
It is important for the development of military families that members be able to care for their newborn, adopted, or placed child or children, all of whom are referred to in this DTM as “child.” Unit commanders must balance the needs of the unit with the needs of the member to maximize opportunity to use parental leave.
Army Directive-type Memorandum 23-001
- Members who give birth will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following a period of convalescence to care for the child.
- Members who are the non-birth parent will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following the birth of their child to care for the child.
- Members who adopt a minor child or who have a minor child placed for adoption or long-term foster care with them will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave to care for the child.
- Members will be afforded the opportunity to take full advantage of the MPLP consistent with their desires, operational requirements, and training workloads of their unit.
- The MPLP must be administered in accordance with applicable laws and the policies and procedures in this DTM.