Paternity Leave in the Military

February 2011

Due to deployment schedules, many military members are missing the birth of their newborn baby. Being halfway across the world on deployment when your wife is in a hospital in labor can be an overwhelming scenario. While many times, the military isn’t able to directly address the separation during delivery, they are trying harder to ensure the father gets time to bond with their new baby.

Each military branch has different rules regarding paternity leave. Even the policies and procedures differ from one branch to the next. What is consistent across all branches is that married soldiers who are new dads now can take 10 days of nonchargeable leave time.

The Army took the steps to start this program last of all of the branches. The Army paternity leave policy allows a married soldier to have 10 days of consecutive leave within 45 days of the birth of his child. If he is deployed when the baby is born, he will have 60 days upon returning from deployment to take the 10 days of paternity leave.

The Navy’s policy is the most generous by giving sailors 365 days to take paternity leave. The Navy doesn’t mandate that the sailor use the 10 days consecutively.

In the Air Force, airmen must use paternity leave within 60 days of the birth of the child. However, commanders can approve leave for up to 90 days after the birth if they feel circumstances warrant it.

Marines must request paternity leave within 25 days after the birth of the baby. If deployed, the commander can approve paternity leave within 90 days of deployment and can authorize it outside that time period for extraordinary circumstances.

To be eligible for paternity leave for any military branch, the military member must be active duty and married. Single military members who father a baby are not able to take paternity leave. Military dads are eligible to take 10 days for the birth of each baby but the number of days does not increase for the birth of twins or more.