The Army is finally joining the 21st century — in parental care, at least.
A new memo that went into effect last week will recognize either parent as the main caretaker of the child, not just the mother, and it more than doubles the time available to the other parent.
The main change here is that the Army is now splitting 12 weeks of maternity leave into two separate forms of parental leave: six weeks for a soldier immediately after giving birth, and another six weeks that can be taken at any other time in the first year post-birth.
In most cases, that'll mean a soldier having a baby will immediately take six weeks off, then another six weeks whenever she wants during the first year of her kiddo's life if she's the primary caregiver. But if her partner is the main caretaker, that soldier can take the additional six weeks of leave.
Secondary caregiver leave — which was previously assumed to be paternity leave but is now for either parent — has jumped from 10 to 21 days, and can be taken within the first year instead of the previously-required 45 days after birth.
Under the old policy, only one parent of an adopted child was given 21 days of absence. Now, both the primary and secondary parents are allowed six- and three-week leave. The new policy also recognizes unmarried parents, unlike the old policy, because hello — it's 2019, not 1919.
The new policy is retroactive to Dec. 23, 2016, per the Army Times, so parents who have had kids since and are still within the approved timeframes can take advantage of the new policy.
The other services all changed their policies in June 2018, Military.com reports. But hey, better late than never, right?