WASHINGTON — Members of the military will now get 12 weeks of parental leave, doubling the previous amount, after a memorandum from the Department of Defense went into effect Wednesday.
The 12 weeks are for both birth and non-birth parents, including those who adopt a child, have a child placed with them for long-term foster care, or use a surrogate.
For birth parents, the 12-week leave is in addition to a convalescent leave to recover from labor, "if such leave is specifically recommended, in writing, by the health care provider of the birth parent to address a diagnosed medical condition and is approved by the unit commander," the memo states.
The parental leave must be taken within the first year after the child's birth or adoption. Members can take the leave in increments during that year, at least seven days at a time.
The new policy applies to parents of children born or adopted after Dec. 27, 2022. The Department of Defense said in a release that birth parents already on maternity convalescent leave or caregiver leave at that time will also get the new benefit, receiving up to 18 weeks "between the old policy and the new."
The policy applies to "active and reserve component service members (on active duty for 12 months or more)," the release said. Parents who adopt a child who was already living with them don't qualify.
According to Military.com, previous regulations provided six weeks of convalescent leave to new military moms and an additional six weeks for the family's primary caregiver. Secondary caregivers got up to three weeks.
The new policy was introduced as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, signed into law in December 2021.