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Another win for maternity leave! The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps announced this month that, effective immediately, women who serve will have triple the amount of paid maternity leave, from six weeks to 18, during the first year of her baby's life.
The policy applies retroactively to anyone who has taken leave since Jan. 1, 2015. According to the Defense Department, there are 57,300 active-duty women in the Navy and 14,100 in the Marine Corps.
"Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our country," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. "This flexibility is an investment in our people and our services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members."
Men in the Navy, though, are entitled to just 10 days of paternity leave for the birth of a child. If Mabus wished to increase it, he would need Congressional approval to do so.
The new announcement joins a list of similar changes at companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter, who offer a minimum of 12 weeks of paid leave for moms.
Still, the truth is we all know that maternity leave policies in the U.S. are pretty abysmal. Out of all the countries in the world, it's just us and Papua New Guinea that don't offer paid family leave (which John Oliver rightly slams the U.S. for). We have 12 weeks of protected leave (someone can't be fired for taking time off for a baby), but there's no federal policy on paid leave.
We sure have a lot of catching up to do, but we're glad to see baby steps in the right direction.