US Navy Triples Paid Maternity Leave

Women like U.S. Navy Lieutenant Shaina Hayden now get more than 6 weeks of maternity leave. (Photo from November 2008, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Effective immediately, female sailors and marines can now take up to 18 weeks after the birth of a child.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus directed the U.S. Navy to triple the amount of paid maternity leave it offers, making the Navy the first military service to provide more than six weeks of leave. Because a Navy study discovered about 9 percent of enlisted women and 5 percent of women officers are pregnant at any one time, the change will have an impact on a significant portion of the workforce. Some 5,000 women — including 500 officers — will be eligible for the benefit each year.

In a statement, Mabus said the Navy and Marine Corps make it a practice to look for ways to recruit and retain good people.

“We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way,” Mabus explained. “Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county.”