Effective immediately, women who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps will have 18 weeks of maternity leave available to use during the first year of her child’s life. Previously, women serving had six weeks maternity leave available.
The policy also applies retroactively to any woman who has been authorized convalescent leave following the birth of a child since Jan. 1, 2015. Under the new policy, commanding officers are required to grant to a woman up to a total of 18 weeks, using a combination of maternity leave and convalescent leave beyond 30 days. A mother does not need to take all of her leave at once. However, she is only entitled to the use of this type of leave within one year of her child’s birth.
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made the change in accordance with Department of Defense instructions. “In the Navy and the Marine Corps, we are continually looking for ways to recruit and retain the best people,” Mabus said. “We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way. We can do that for them. Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members.”
For families, increased time following the birth of her child has tangible benefits for the physical and psychological health of both mother and child. Navy and Marine Corps leadership believe the new maternity leave policies ultimately will yield higher readiness and retention for the services, as women return to and stay in military careers. Mabus said, “With increased maternity leave, we can demonstrate the commitment of the Navy and Marine Corps to the women who are committed to serve.”