During an all-hands call for sailors and their families, the Navy’s chief of personnel Robert Burke announced plans on Thursday to more than double the amount of paid paternity leave available to servicemen from 10 to 21 days.
In the announcement, Burke noted that the move was meant to reflect “where we are in modern society.” According to a report from Federal News Radio, the expansion of leave will apply to Navy fathers who adopt and some fathers who are in domestic partnerships where they are not the birth parent of the child.
The move to expand paternity leave comes as a direct result of a year-old change in the Department of Defense budget meant to allocate more funds for family time for new fathers. According to the same Federal News Radio report, the Navy will be the first military branch to utilize the budget reallocation to offer more paid paternity leave. While the DOD never mandated that various military branches act on the new budget, in his announcement during the all-hands call Burke noted that the Navy didn’t want to make service members choose between being present for their families and furthering their careers.
Despite being a huge step in the right direction, the Navy’s paternity leave policy does not put it at the forefront of the movement to expand paternity benefits. Netflix, ranked number one on Fatherly’s list of “Best Places for New Dads to Work” last year, offers employees up to a year of paid paternity leave. Etsy, ranked number two, offers 26 weeks. It should be noted that these two companies are kings of a small sandbox. The national average for paid paternity leave is close to three weeks.
Currently, the Navy is waiting for the DOD to update their own rules to allow for the armed services to expand paternity leave sometime next month.