Army National Guard and Army Reserve drill-status “birthparents” will receive excused absences with pay and retirement points for 12 unit training assemblies within 12 months of a birth, according to new policy announced last week.
The program is designed to provide comparable leave across the components of the Army, officials said.
Twelve UTAs would cover three standard weekend drills monthly. Women in the active components have had three months of maternity leave after pregnancy and childbirth since 2016.
In addition to the 12 paid UTAs, birthparents will be allowed an additional four unpaid UTA absences.
The program is part of the Army’s Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum directive signed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.
Army officials say much of the directive began as a grassroots effort by soldiers. It includes expanded postpartum operational and training deferments, extended exemptions for physical fitness testing and the Army Body Composition Program, standardized convalescent leave in cases of pregnancy loss and greater family care plan flexibility.
The changes affect more than 400,000 parents across the Army, including 29,000 single-father soldiers, who outnumber single-mother soldiers by a 3-to-1 ratio.
Under this directive, all of the components — which previously existed in more than 20 Army regulations — are consolidated in one document to provide a resource for leaders to assist military families.
The Army’s Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum directive can be found here.
The Guard and Reserve maternity leave program brings the Army into compliance with the law.
The fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, signed in January 2021, included a provision to provide excused absences with pay to drill-status Guard and Reserve women for up to three months of unit training assemblies after pregnancy and childbirth.
NGAUS championed the legislation on Capitol Hill during its formulation.
The Army is the first service to implement the law.
Following the Army's announcement, a Defense Department spokeswoman told Military.com the DoD policy on the matter is "in its final stages of completion and is expected to be published soon."
"It will apply to all reserve components across DoD when published," Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence said.
Lawrence attributed the delay to the law providing a maternity leave benefit but not the necessary leave authority. The Pentagon had to determine whether it had sufficient authority to implement the program without additional legislation, she said.
She added the benefit will not be retroactive to include drilling Guardsmen and Reservists who have had babies since January 2021 and have missed weekend drills.