Paternity Leave: 10 Days of Bonding Time

26 09 2012

On September 24th, 2012 at 1631, our son Daniel was born. I have to admit that he’s got to be one of the cutest (“most handsome” for the manly men) babies that I have ever seen. Of course, some people would have to protest that their child is the best looking, but I will simply have to disagree with my biased point of view. We’ve been in the hospital since early Sunday morning, and as soon as he was born, that’s when my paternity leave kicked in.
So what is paternity leave? Paternity leave is non-chargeable leave awarded to married fathers that consists of 10 days. This leave period is to ensure that the father and child have adequate bonding time and that the necessary steps are taken to ensure that the mother and child are taken care of. Being a new father and not really understanding the standard procedure of how to set myself up for paternity leave, I had to ask around for help from other dad’s in the service to get my leave chit set up. Basically, the leave chit will be set up months in advance, with an approximate date of when the child is due. The dates are relatively flexible in comparison to normal leave, because there never is a guaranteed date of when the child will be born. What I can’t stress enough is that new dads should get these leave chits routed through their chain of command AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to ensure that they will not be getting screwed over by a sudden change in ship’s schedule. Changes in ship’s schedule would include underways and deployments. Underways are easier to cope with as opposed to deployments, because your chain of command can allow you to be on a stay behind list through a special request chit. For those brand new dads that are currently on deployment, in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was signed by President Bush back in October of 2008, married fathers can take paternity leave whenever within 365 days of the child’s birth. Roughly translated, this means that you can take paternity leave upon return from deployment.
So what are new dad’s that aren’t married supposed to do? The National Defense Authorization Act doesn’t specify that paternity leave is to be granted to these types of individuals, but it is encouraged that Commanding Officers approve regular leave to ensure adequate bonding time for new fathers.
The Navy lifestyle can be tough for new parents, and it always seems that schedules and timing are always working against you. The best thing to do is to keep your chain of command informed on the lifestyle changes and events that affect you, because chances are your superiors have children and are more understanding than you think. Remember, paternity leave is not time for you to just kick back and relax. Paternity leave is there for you to get some precious bonding time in and ensure that your wife is taken care of. For more information about paternity leave click here.

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Larry D. Bernstein | Freelance Writer, Blogger, Educator

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