Air Force implements new parental leave policy, secondary caregivers given 21 days

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In accordance with the Department of Defense Military Parental Leave Program, the Air Force announced an expansion to its parental leave policy on non-chargeable leave entitlements following the birth or adoption of a child.

Previously, Air Force policy authorized 12 consecutive weeks of maternity convalescent leave to female Airmen who gave birth. Additionally, 10 days of non-chargeable leave were given to an Airman whose spouse gave birth.

Effective immediately, the new policy applies to Total Force Airmen who are birth mothers and fathers, same-sex couples, as well as adoptive and surrogate parents. Reserve Component Airmen should refer to Air Force Instruction 36-3003 for specific eligibility requirements.

Under the new policy, AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program, outlines three forms of non-chargeable leave following a qualifying birth event or adoption: maternity convalescent leave, primary caregiver leave and secondary caregiver leave.

Now maternity convalescent leave is six weeks (42 days), primary caregiver leave is six weeks, and secondary caregiver leave is three weeks (21 days). Every birth mother will have convalescent leave. Caregiver leave is given in addition to the convalescent leave.

Covered service members having a child by birth, adoption or surrogacy will determine which parent is the primary and secondary caregiver. Designations for caregiver status should be made as early as possible and follow Department of Defense guidance. Each parent can only hold one caregiver status per birth event or adoption; for example, a secondary cannot transfer their leave to the primary caregiver.

Airmen should submit their caregiver leave as determined by their local unit commanders. Until LeaveWeb is altered to allow for a caregiver leave category, members will request the non-chargeable caregiver leave by selecting (T) Permissive on the type dropdown menu, and then choosing rule 18 for primary and rule 19 for secondary. Until the AF Form 988 is altered, Airmen who cannot use LeaveWeb, should check “Other” in block 8 and specify primary or secondary in the remarks.

For all three types of parental leave, the allotted time off must be taken all at once and cannot be split up. Primary and secondary caregiver leave can be taken any time within the first year after a child’s birth or adoption.

The Air Force policy, authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, is effective immediately and retroactive to December 23, 2016.

The Air Force Personnel Center will send out guidance via MyPers on the process for requesting restoration of qualifying non-chargeable leave.

Frequently Asked Questions can be found here. For additional information regarding the Military Leave Program, please visit AFI 36-3003 or contact Air Force Total Force Service Center at 1-800-565-0102.