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AF implements new parental leave policy

A man in the Airman Battle Uniform talks in front of a bunch of men wearing ABUS.

Staff Sgt. Brendan Hayes, 19th Comptroller Squadron financial operations flight supervisor, briefs Airmen on the new parental leave policy July 17, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. In accordance with the Department of Defense Military Parental Leave Program, the Air Force will be expanding the parental leave policy on non-chargeable leave entitlements following the birth or adoption of a child (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

In accordance with the Department of Defense Military Parental Leave Program, the Air Force will be expanding the parental leave policy on non-chargeable leave entitlements following the birth or adoption of a child.

Effective immediately, the new policy applies to Total Force Airmen who are birth mothers and fathers, same-sex couples, as well as adoptive and surrogate parents.

Under the new policy, AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program, outlines three forms of non-chargeable leave following a qualifying birth event or adoption: maternity convalescent leave, primary caregiver leave and secondary caregiver leave.

“The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force is trying to give more time back to the Airmen by increasing the amount of leave the secondary caregiver can take,” said Staff Sgt. Brendan Hayes, 19th Comptroller Squadron financial operations flight supervisor. “The increased leave of the secondary caregiver allows a little more time for the family dynamic to come together before the parent returns to work. “

Now maternity convalescent leave is six weeks, primary caregiver leave is six weeks and secondary caregiver leave is three weeks. Every birth mother will have convalescent leave. Caregiver leave is given in addition to the convalescent leave.

For all three types of parental leave, the allotted time off must be taken all at once and cannot be split up. Primary and secondary caregiver leave can be taken any time within the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.

“Giving birth is exhausting, and new mothers really do need that time to just let the body recuperate,” said Tech. Sgt. Laprincess Day, an expecting mother. “The fact they [Air Force] gave the option to have both parents home to take care of the baby for even a little more time is really good.”

Covered service members having a child by birth, adoption or surrogacy will determine which parent is the primary and secondary caregiver. Designations for caregiver status should be made as early as possible and follow Department of Defense guidance. Each parent can only hold one caregiver status per birth event or adoption; for example, a secondary cannot transfer their leave to the primary caregiver.

Previously, Air Force policy authorized 12 consecutive weeks of maternity convalescent leave to female Airmen who gave birth. Additionally, 10 days of non-chargeable leave were given to an Airman whose spouse gave birth. Reserve Component Airmen should refer to Air Force Instruction 36-3003 for specific eligibility requirements.

The Air Force policy, authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, is effective immediately and retroactive to December 23, 2016.

For additional information regarding the Military Leave Program, please visit AFI 36-3003 or call the LRAFB finance office at (501) 987-8294.