US Department of Defense extends military parental leave

US Department of Defense
Credit: Mia2you /

The US Department of Defense has expanded its military parental leave programme in order to allow all eligible active and reserve service members to care for children while balancing their work.

The expansion provides 12 weeks of parental leave to those on active duty for 12 months or more who have given birth, adopted a child or had a child placed for long-term foster care with them. Birth parents will be granted the additional leave allowance following a period of convalescent leave, while non-birth, adoptive and eligible foster parents will be able to take the time off following the birth, adoption or fostering of their child.

Those who were already on maternity convalescent or caregiver leave before the new policy came into effect, and who had not yet used up their leave, will be transitioned to the newly updated policy without any loss of benefits.

This means that those birth parents currently on maternity convalescent or caregiver leave have been given a total of 18 weeks of non-chargeable leave following the birth of their child. Those who are not birth parents, but who are on caregiver leave – such as a father on three weeks of secondary caregiver leave – have received a total of 12 weeks of parental leave.

According to the Department of Defense, the leave can be taken by both birth and non-birth parents. The expansion has taken precedence over previous issuances and service regulations, and is intended to take effect without interruption to members.

Gil Cisneros, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness of the US, said: “The expansion was made in accordance with DTM 23-001 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, and builds on the department’s support of military families and service members by streamlining and enhancing the parental leave benefit for service members.”