May 24, 2019

Udall, Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enable All Military Women to Count Maternity Leave Towards Years of Service

Mothers of Military Service (MOMS) Leave Act would ensure women serving in National Guard and Reserves receive pay and points toward retirement during time spent on maternity leave

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced bipartisan legislation to support military mothers by ensuring that women serving in the National Guard and Reserves can take maternity leave without worrying about how it will affect their creditable military service. Their bill, the Mothers of Military Service (MOMS) Leave Act, would allow women service members of the reserve components to receive pay and points towards retirement while on maternity leave. 

The legislation is also backed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). In the House, it is sponsored by U.S. Representative Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.). 

In 2016, the Department of Defense (DOD) established new policies that authorized 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave after pregnancy and childbirth for active-duty service members. But under current law, women serving in the Natural Guard and Reserves can lose out on credit for their military service and points towards retirement while they are on maternity leave. Members of the reserve components in inactive duty training status are still required to attend unit training assembles – or weekend drill – in order to receive points toward creditable military service. And if the woman service member misses drill, she is in jeopardy of not receiving credit toward retirement. This bipartisan legislation would make sure that women serving in the reserve components receive pay and points for 12 pay periods (equal to six drill weekends) towards retirement after pregnancy and childbirth, thereby guaranteeing paid maternity leave for approximately 150,000 women currently serving in the National Guard and Reserves. 

“Our service members make enormous sacrifices for our country when they answer the call to duty – but they should never have to sacrifice their hard-earned pay and credits just because they took time off to care for their newborn child,” said Udall. “This bipartisan bill evens the playing field to make sure women in the National Guard and Reserves get the same paid maternity leave as their active-duty counterparts. It’s long past time that we support all military moms, instead of asking some to choose between caring for their newborns or receiving pay and retirement credits. Service members play such an essential role in securing our national safety – it’s only fair that our country serves them as well as they have served our country.” 

“Our men and women in uniform serve bravely and honorably in both the regular armed forces and the reserve component,” said Rounds. “Our legislation evens the playing field to make sure mothers who serve in the National Guard or Reserve receive the same maternity leave benefits as their active-duty counterparts. It will allow these new mothers to focus on their newborns without worrying about making-up missed drill periods and other duties.” 

“Women in the military shouldn’t be forced to choose between caring for a newborn or keep their standing in the military. We should support all of our women in uniform who make great sacrifices to serve the country and ensure they receive hard-earned pay and credits,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to fight for policies that allow women serving in the National Guard and Reserves to take maternity leave, improve retention, and strengthen our military.” 

“Women who serve our country should not be inadvertently penalized for having a child, nor should they be expected to return to drill duties in the weeks following childbirth,” said Moran. “This bipartisan, sensible legislation would support new mothers in our National Guard and Reserve by making certain that they receive the same paid maternity leave benefits as their active duty counterparts. This proposal is an important step forward in ensuring that women can both serve our nation and build their families without having to sacrifice their pay or credits.”

“It’s important that we provide the brave men and women of the Armed Forces with the care and support that they have earned through their dedicated service to our country,” Capito said. “This legislation would allow mothers to take time to recover and spend time with their newborn without having to worry about taking unpaid leave. With West Virginia’s strong National Guard and Reserve presence, I hope this bill will help put expecting mothers’ minds at ease.” 

“Women who bravely serve our country in the National Guard and Reserves shouldn’t be penalized for wanting to start a family. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation would allow women in all branches of the military to earn the same pay and retirement credit during their maternity leave. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the first ever Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, I’m proud to lead this bill in the House and fight for maternity leave parity for our women in uniform,” said Torres Small.

The full text of the legislation is available HERE.