The Navy Just Tripled Their Maternity Leave In an Awesome Effort to Retain Female Service Members
Maternity leave in the US is mostly not great, but even though the law doesn't require employers to offer anything impressive, some employers do anyway. For instance, the Navy has just announced they are increasing tripling the maternity leave they offer as part of an effort to retain the many talented women in their ranks. So that's pretty awesome.
Under the new policy, women in the Navy and Marine Corps are entitled to up to 18 weeks of maternity leave and is effective immediately. It also applies retroactively to any woman who gave birth since January 1st, 2015 and who might now like to take advantage of twelve extra weeks off. Women are also not required to tae all of their leave at once, but is entitled to dole it out however she likes over the course of a year after giving birth. And the benefits of the policy, including the flexibility it offers, are obvious.
"In the Navy and the Marine Corps, we are continually looking for ways to recruit and retain the best people," said Secretary Ray Mabus in a release. "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. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members."
The fact that the Navy is offering service women more maternity leave is great, but even more encouraging is that it seems they decided to institute the policy not only because of the benefits for Navy families but also because they're hoping to recruit and retain more female personnel. The Navy, like the rest of the military and quite a few other institutions, is very male dominated. And there are, to be sure, many reasons for that, but policies that make it difficult for women to balance their work and family life are often part of the picture.
Having more women in the Navy is a noble goal, especially increasing the number of women in higher ranking positions. And it's great that the Navy seems to be serious enough about that goal to make policy changes. Because women really shouldn't have to choose between a meaningful job they love and being able to have a family.
Now we just need lawmakers to come to the same conclusion.