Sailors, Marines to Get an Extra Week of Leave to Welcome New Baby

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Sailor takes time to play with his son at a local park
Yeoman Petty Officer 1st Class Luis Lujan takes time to play with his son at a local park. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Karen Eifert)

Marines and sailors will get an additional week of leave to bond with their new baby or adopted child under announcements from the services on Monday.

The maximum amount of leave for "secondary caregivers" increased from 14 days to 21 days effective Feb. 11, according to administrative messages released by the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Once known as paternity leave, secondary caregiver leave is usually for the parent who did not give birth, although military families have leeway to designate who are the primary and secondary caregivers.

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The leave must be taken consecutively and includes weekends and holidays.

The move matches changes in recent years by the other services, as the Air Force and the Army have awarded up to 21 days of secondary caregiver leave to new moms and dads since 2018 and 2019, respectively.

"The expansion of caregiver leave will provide additional relief to the families of Marines and sailors, further improving Marine and family readiness, as well as recruiting, retention, and overall talent management of the force," the Marine Corps said in a statement released Monday.

"Navy is dedicated to supporting our new parents, and we fully understand that our families are as much a part of our service as our Sailors," Vice Adm. John Nowell, chief of naval personnel, said in a press release.

The extra leave will soon be overtaken by an increase to 12 weeks of secondary caregiver leave that was included as a requirement in the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

Under the law passed late last year, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps must provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for military personnel designated as either the primary or secondary caregiver of a child.

This would mean that new mothers who are in the military and are the designated primary caregiver would receive 12 weeks of leave in addition to the six weeks given for convalescent leave following a birth or adoption.

Secondary caregivers also would receive up to 12 weeks of leave.

The benefit, which already is standard for federal employees, must go into effect by Dec. 27, according to the defense authorization law.

– Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

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