Navy triples maternity leave to 18 weeks

Navy triples maternity leave to 18 weeks
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The Navy announced late last week that it is tripling the amount of paid maternity leave that female sailors and Marines can take after the birth of a child.

The change, ordered by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, makes the Navy the first military service to provide more than the current six weeks of leave.

"Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our country," Mabus said in a July 2 statement. "This flexibility is an investment in our people and our services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members." 

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The new leave policy, effective immediately, combines six weeks of paid maternity leave with 12 weeks of paid convalescent leave and applies retroactively to any woman in the Navy or Marines who has had a baby since Jan. 1, 2015.

The leave doesn't have to be taken all at once, but it must all be taken within a child's first year.

"When the women in our Navy and Marine Corps answer the call to serve, they are making the difficult choice to be away from their children — sometimes for prolonged periods of time — so that they can do the demanding jobs that we ask them to do,” Mabus said. "With increased maternity leave, we can demonstrate the commitment of the Navy and Marine Corps to the women who are committed to serve."

Roughly 5,000 women would be eligible for the benefit each year, according to Navy estimates.