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Having recognized the significance of the presence of a father at the time of childbirth, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 provisioned a 10-day paternity leave to all male soldiers. The military paternity leave policy entitles servicemen from all wings of the military such as Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, to support their spouse and enjoy uninterrupted time with their newborn.
Since, the concept of paternity leave is somewhat new to all the military services of the United States, there is still a lot of ambiguity surrounding the interpretation of the regulations governing these leaves. Here are some details on the main provisions of the military paternity leave policy.
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Basic Eligibility For Military Patenity Leave
Paternity leave is granted only to married soldiers who have a wife that has given birth to a baby after the 14th of October, 2008. Also, the soldier must be on active guard, active duty or reserve duty, to be eligible for military paternity leave. This legislation rules out paternity leave for any single fathers and fathers who have a baby from a woman other than their legally married spouse.
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Length of Leave
Military paternity leave is granted as a continuous leave for a maximum of 10 days. Further, under no circumstances can it exceed the threshold of ten days or be taken as an intermittent leave. As per the Army regulations, the soldier must claim the leave within 45 days, starting from the day of the birth of the child. For other wings of the military, the period for claiming paternity leave is different, for the Navy it is 365 days, for the Air Force it is 60 days and for the Marine Corps it is 25 days. The paternity leave is non-chargeable and is given to the soldiers with the intention of helping them to bond with and take care of the spouse and the newborn.
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Paternity Leave for Deployed Soldiers
Since the deployed soldiers may not be able to avail the paternity leave within the specified 45 days limit or the time limit specified by the military wing, the act has provisions to accommodate the paternity leave beyond this set limit. Upon returning from deployment the soldiers can claim their 10 day paternity leave within 60 days from the official date of return to the home station.
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Adjustment of Annual Leave Taken for Childbirth
If any serviceman has taken any annual leave in connection with the birth of a child, between 14th October, 2008 and the official date of release of ALARACT 062/2009 which provisions military paternity leave, they can request for the 10 day paternity leave to be restored or re-credit to their annual leave account. However, for this, the serviceman would be required to furnish supporting documents like DA form-31A and LES, to the Personnel Administrative Center or the appropriate administrative official.
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Using Military Paternity Leave for Adoption:
The ten-day military paternity leave cannot be claimed for the adoption of a baby. All branches of the military do provide a 3-week, non-chargeable adoption leave that can be claimed both by married as well as single soldiers who are considering adoption. The Military/Army Times offers a more in depth look into military paternity leave.