Military Parental Leave Program (MPLP)
Benefit Fact Sheet
The Military Parental Leave Program (MPLP) provides non-chargeable leave entitlements following the birth, adoption or long-term foster placement of a minor child. The policy applies to Total Force Service members who are birth mothers and fathers, same-sex couples, as well as adoptive, foster, and surrogate parents.
Effective December 27, 2022, parents who give birth are authorized 12 weeks (84 days) of Parental Leave following medical provider-recommended period of convalescent leave, typically 6 weeks (42 days). Nonbirth-giving parents, adoptive parents and foster parents are also authorized 12 weeks of Parental Leave. If a member uses a surrogate and they become the legal parent of the child, the event will be treated as an adoption and the member will be authorized Parental Leave. All leave must be taken within one year of the qualifying event but can be taken incrementally.
Active component Service members of the Regular Air Force and Space Force, Reserve component Service members performing Active Guard and Reserve duty or Full-time National Guard Duty (FTNGD) for more than 12 months consecutively; and Reserve Component Service members performing duty under a call or order to active service for more than 12 months consecutively, are eligible for the Military Parental Leave Program.
The Military Parental Leave Program (MPLP) consists of the following forms of non-chargeable leave following a qualifying birth event for covered Service members: Maternity Convalescent Leave, Parental Leave and Permissive TDY for fertility treatment.
Maternity Convalescent Leave: Is non-chargeable leave to meet medical needs for recuperation. It is limited to the birthparent, who is a covered Service member, proceeding a qualifying birth event. Must be medically necessary for the health and safety of the member or fetus.
Is generally recommended to be 42 days of non-chargeable leave, unless additional Maternity Convalescent Leave is specifically recommended, in writing by the medical provider of the covered member to address a diagnosed medical condition and is approved by the member’s commander. A covered birthparent may, with the concurrence of a medical provider, elect to receive a period of Maternity Convalescent Leave that is less than 42 days
Begins immediately on the first full day following the date of discharge or release from the hospital (or similar facility) where the birth took place.
Must be taken prior to Parental Leave
Must be taken in one increment
May be taken in conjunction with Parental Leave, and/or with approved ordinary leave
May not be disapproved by a commander
May not be transferred to create any kind of shared benefit
Will be forfeited if unused at separation from active service.
In cases where a baby is stillborn, the member suffers a miscarriage, or where the baby is given up for adoption immediately following birth, Convalescent Leave other than Maternity Convalescent Leave, may be granted in accordance with DAFI 41-210. Convalescence may also be granted for the non-birthparent to enable healthy coping mechanisms in the event of loss due to still birth or miscarriage.
Parental Leave: The Department of Air Force grants 12 weeks of Parental Leave following a qualifying birth event, long-term foster care placement or adoption. All leave must be used within one year of the qualifying event. If the parents are dual-military, they are each granted 12 weeks of Parental Leave and may not transfer weeks to the other Service member.
Pending commander approval, Parental Leave may be taken in increments of at least seven days with a maximum of 12 increments. If the commander does not approve taking incremental Parental Leave, they must allow the member to take the full 12 weeks of Parental Leave in one continuous period.
Unused days will be forfeited at the time of separation from active service. This does not apply to a Reservist who qualifies for Parental Leave.
Unused leave at the one-year mark of the qualifying child placement/event will be forfeited unless an extension was granted. Extensions will be extended on a day-for-day basis based on the period of such circumstance.
A member is eligible for an extension of the one-year Parental Leave period if they:
Are deployed or participating in a military exercise for a consecutive period of 90 or more days within the one-year period following a qualifying child placement event.
Attend an in-residence professional military education course for a consecutive period of 90 or more days within the one-year period concerned.
Experience a permanent change-of-station order with temporary duty en-route to a new permanent duty station of 90 or more consecutive days that would interfere with the taking of Parental Leave within the one-year period concerned.
Conducted routine temporary duty away from the permanent duty station for a consecutive period of 90 or more days within the one-year period concerned.
Were hospitalized or in an in-patient status for more than 90 consecutive days within the one-year period concerned.
A Secretary of a military department or commandant of the Coast Guard may approve extenuating circumstances not covered in DAFI 36-3003.
Unused leave for a Reserve member will be forfeited unless the forfeiture does not apply as explained in paragraph 5 of DTM-22-005.
Active service of a Reservist member cannot be extended solely to permit Parental Leave.
Reserve members will not be recalled to active service to use any category of Parental Leave.
If Parental Leave started, it terminates upon the death of the child (to include an adopted child or child placed for adoption or long-term foster care). Members may be transitioned to convalescent leave if recommended by a DOD health care provider, or emergency leave.
Permissive TDY for Fertility Treatment: Airmen and Guardians who elect to participate in a fertility treatment program at a military medical treatment facility are eligible for 35 days of Permissive Temporary Duty (PTDY), which can also be divided into parts as deemed necessary by the medical provider. Service members should use PTDY for travel to undergo treatment at any one of six fertility treatment facilities:
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD
Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, HI
Womack Army Medical Center, Fayetteville, NC
Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA
San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, TX
Naval Medical Center San Diego, San Diego, CA
Multiple Qualifying Events : Multiple qualifying events that do not occur within the same 72-hour period will be treated as separate events for the allocation of Parental Leave. Any of these days that the member does not use within 1 year of the second evet will be forfeited.
In separate qualifying events, any new Parental Leave must run concurrently with any pre-existing Parental Leave that has not expired or been used as od the date of the new event.
Child Born Outside of a Marriage: In the case of a Child born outside of a marriage, the member's parentage of the Child must be established in accordance with AFI 36-3026. Member must initiate registration in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) within 30 days of the birth or will forfeit eligibility. A birthparent is not required to establish proof of parentage.
Surrogacy: In cases where a Service allows its members to act as a surrogate, only the 6-week Maternity Convalescent Leave (subject to the provisions for extending Maternity Convalescent Leave in DAFI 36-3003, paragraph 184.108.40.206.2 following childbirth is authorized for a covered Service member.
A covered Service member whose Spouse serves as a surrogate and gives birth is not entitled to Parental Leave.
In cases where a covered Service member uses a surrogate, and the member becomes the legal parent or guardian of the Child, the event will be treated as an adoption, and the Service member will be entitled to 12 weeks of Parental Leave.
Adoptions: Members, to include dual military couples, will be authorized 12 weeks of Parental Leave during the one-year period following the date of placement of a minor child with the member for adoption, or the date of adoption of a minor child by the member.
Members are not eligible for Military Parental Leave if the child is already residing within the member’s household when the placement of a minor child with the member for adoption is finalized as an adoption.
If the placement of a minor child with the member for adoption of long-term foster care is terminated, any amount of Parental Leave remaining will be forfeited.
Long-term Foster Care: Long term foster care is defined as the action of placing a minor child in foster care in which there is an expectation and contractual agreement between the foster parents and the child‑placing agency that the child remain in the home of the foster parents for a minimum of 24 months.
Members, to include dual military couples, will be authorized Military Parental Leave during the one-year period after the date of placement of a minor child with the member for long-term foster care of the placed child.
Additional Parental Leave is not authorized if the long-term foster care placement is converted to and adoption or is finalized as an adoption by the member of a minor child already residing within the member’s household.
Combining Leave: Members may take ordinary (i.e. chargeable) leave in between increments of Parental Leave or consecutively with Parental Leave.
Deferral: Operationally deployed members must defer Parental Leave until their deployment is completed. In exceptional and compelling circumstances, a unit commander may approve Parental Leave if the unit commander determines that the unit’s readiness will be not adversely impacted.
Department of Defense Instruction 1327.06
Department of the Air Force Guidance Memorandum to AFI 36-3003, Military Leave Program