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Pentagon Releases RC Maternity Leave Directive

Mom and Baby
Mom and Baby
Washington Report

The Pentagon has issued a “Directive-type Memorandum” for a maternity program that provides drill-status “birth parents” with excused absences with pay and retirement points for 12 unit training assemblies. 

The Reserve Component Maternity Leave Program is designed to provide comparable leave across the military components — active, National Guard and Reserve. 

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.

The June 9 memo signed by Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr. the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, uses the term “birth parent,” which it defines as “the Service member who gives birth.”

To read the memo, go to www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dtm/DTM-22-004.PDF?ver=7ewpJmILVWRgYJMhh5ElGw%3D%3D.

When fully implemented across the Guard and Reserve, the program would bring the Defense Department in 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 memo makes clear that drilling Guardsmen and Reservists who give birth before June 9 are not eligible for the program. 

According to the memo, new moms must take the maternity absence within 12 months of giving birth, and commanders cannot deny the benefit if taken within the first three months. 

After that, commanders can weigh mission requirements in considering whether to grant leave.

The program does not apply to adoptions or paternity leave and will be offered only to those "in good standing." 

Guardsmen and Reservists who experience a live birth, stillbirth or miscarriage after 20 weeks can receive the paid authorized absences under the program. 

The services have been rolling out their specific parental leave policies in recent months, including the Army in April. The policy also provides the option of four unpaid assemblies, usually two days.

The Army was the first service to announce a Guard and Reserve maternity program. 

Following the Army's announcement, a DoD spokeswoman said the delay in the Pentagon guidance to the fiscal 2021 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.

—By John Goheen