The Army has finally released its long-awaited new parental leave policy, which doubles the amount of time soldiers can take off as new parents.
The new policy, which applies to all active duty and full-time Reserve and National Guard soldiers, allows 12 weeks of parental leave to parents, those whose spouse has given birth, as well as those who adopt or foster a child. For birth parents, the new leave is in addition to up to six weeks that are authorized for convalescent leave.
The policy is retroactive to December 27, 2022.
The expanded parental leave policy, for both birth and non-birth parents, was mandated by the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on December 23, 2022.
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The Department of Defense published its new parental leave guidelines in early January, 4and the various services have released their own specific guidance in the intervening weeks. The Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard released their new policies one day after the Pentagon announcement. The Navy released its specific parental leave guidance on January 19, and the Marine Corps followed on January 30, making the Army the final service to officially comply with the new mandate for 12 weeks of parental leave.
Those delays left some service members stuck applying for parental leave under the old policy until the new guidance was officially published.
The Army’s allotted 12 weeks can be taken consecutively or in separate blocks and can be used for up to one year after the birth of a child. That one-year period can also be extended in the case of deployment, attendance at a professional military education course, or other extenuating circumstances.
One notable difference in the Army’s policy is that it is much more stringent in potentially denying parental leave: for non-birth parents, only the first general officer in a soldier’s chain of command has the authority to deny the leave, while other services’ parental leave policies have left that authority with a service member’s commander.
The new policy doubles the amount of leave that new parents are authorized. It’s also a vast increase for secondary caregivers, who were previously authorized just three weeks of leave for the birth of a child in their family.
The Army’s previous parental leave policy only went into effect in January 2019. Prior to that, secondary caregivers were only authorized 10 days of leave, which had to be taken within 45 days of the child’s birth.
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