DOD releases memo expanding Military Parental Leave Program

  • Published
  • By Jim Garamone
  • DOD News

WASHINGTON, -- The Defense Department has released guidelines for the expansion of the military parental leave policy.

The memo - released Dec. 4 - is signed by Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. The memo applies to all service members and is effective as of January 4, 2023.

"It is important for the development of military families that members be able to care for their newborn, adopted or placed child or children," Cisneros says in the memo.

The memo further says that commanders must balance the needs of their units versus the needs of service members to use parental leave.

The memo specifically says that service members who give birth "will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following a period of convalescence to care for the child." Service members who are the non-birth parent will also be authorized 12 weeks of leave to care for the child.

The memo explains that convalescent leave may be authorized for the recovery of the mother from giving birth if a doctor recommends it to address a specific medical condition and it is approved by the unit commander.

Service members who adopt a child or who have long-term foster care children placed with them will also be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave to care for the child.

Members who were on maternity convalescent leave or who had unused caregiver leave when the new policy went into effect will transition to the new policy without any loss of benefit and will receive the expanded benefit.

The twelve weeks of parental leave may be taken in the first year of the child's life. "Parental leave may not be transferred to create a shared benefit, even between members of a dual military couple," according to the memo.

"Members will be afforded the opportunity to take full advantage of the Military Parental Leave Program consistent with their desires [and the] operational requirements and training workloads of their unit," Cisneros wrote.