The US Navy announced on July 2 that paid maternity leave for women in the Navy and Marine Corps will be tripled to 18 weeks. The policy, effective immediately, also retroactively applies to women who have given birth since January 1, 2015.
The change may come as part of a larger strategy to recruit more women to the Navy. In the press release, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated, “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. We can do that for them.”
“Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county.”
The Navy’s previous maternity leave was six weeks (which is what working moms still receive for maternity leave in the US Army and Air Force.) In 2014, Navy Recruiting Commander Admiral Annie Andrews admitted that the Navy was struggling to recruit highly-skilled employees.
Women now make up 17% of Navy forces, with more than 59,000 women currently serving in active duty and 9,000 in reserves. For the men who make up the remaining 83%, however, paid paternity leave will remain at 10 days—a policy that has been unchanged since 2008.