Udall, Heinrich, Rounds File Bipartisan Amendment to Enable All Military Women to Count Maternity Leave Towards Years of Service

Proposed amendment to major defense policy bill 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.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) led a bipartisan group of senators in filing an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 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. The amendment, which is based on the Mothers of Military Service (MOMS) Leave Act legislation reintroduced by the senators earlier this year, would allow women service members of the reserve components to receive pay and points towards retirement while on maternity leave. 

In addition to Udall, Heinrich and Rounds, the amendment to was filed by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

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.

The senators’ bipartisan amendment to the NDAA 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. “Our bipartisan amendment would even 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 and it’s only fair that our country serves them as well as they have served our country.” 

“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.”

“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.”