The Marine Corps recently announced a significant change to its parental leave policy, expanding the amount of time off available to new parents. This policy will provide active duty Marines with up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. It also represents an effort to make the Marine Corps more gender-inclusive and supportive of families. Let’s take a closer look at this important new policy.

In-depth Look at the Expanded Family Leave Policy

On Monday, the Marine Corps proudly unveiled its version of the comprehensive family leave policy, which enables Marines to take 12 weeks off from their duties following childbirth, adoption, or long-term foster care. 

With this change, Marines can spend more precious time with their newborns and newly adopted children without sacrificing their careers. This move is poised to positively impact countless military families in years to come.

The expanded parental leave policy applies to all active duty Marines who give birth or adopt a child, regardless of gender. The policy allows eligible Marines to take up paid family leave for any combination of parental leave, maternity convalescent leave, or adoption placement leave. In addition, Marines can use their regular annual and special leaves in conjunction with their parental leave.

To be eligible for this benefit, Marines must establish legal parentage before taking time off; if they cannot do so, they must still have been married when their child was born or adopted before being eligible for the benefit. Additionally, any dependent care expenses incurred during their initial 12-week period may be reimbursed by the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps’ expanded family leave program is very generous compared to other branches’ policies; for instance, the Army has only 6 weeks of paid maternity leave and 8 weeks of paternity/adoption leave available under its current program. The Navy also provides 6 weeks of maternity convalescent leave and 8 weeks of paternity/adoption placement leave under its alternative program but only offers 10 days in total under its primary program. By providing 12 weeks of paid family leave, the Marine Corps is leading the charge among military branches in terms of its commitment to supporting new parents.

It’s clear that the Marine Corps has taken a significant step forward in supporting families with its new expanded parental leave policy. By providing up to 12 weeks of paid family leave—and granting eligibility regardless of gender—the Marine Corps is demonstrating its commitment to ensuring that all servicemembers have access to equal benefits irrespective of gender identity or marital status. This is an important step forward in creating a more inclusive environment for all our armed forces and their families.

The latest amendment to the US military’s parental leave policy has received widespread approval among service members. This amendment broadens the scope of the existing policy, granting the same 12 weeks of paid parental time for both birth and non-birth parents, and applies to events like fostering that qualify service members for the benefit. This allows service members more paid time at home with their families and ensures all families can access this vital benefit regardless of their specific circumstances. Furthermore, as more service members take advantage of this expanded time at home, it is sure to positively impact both individual quality of life and overall morale throughout the Armed Forces.

Despite Congress passing new legislation requiring expanded parental leave in December 2021, it took almost two years before the Marines could implement it due to complications such as needing approval from the Secretary of Defense and the Navy. This caused a delay, with other military branches being able to implement their own rules quickly after that. However, now that the Marines have put out their expanded parental leave policies and regulations — effective on Jan. 1, 2023 — more members of our nation’s armed forces will be able to enjoy better balancing their professional and home lives.