Navy officials want to extend paid maternity leave

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Navy officials are proposing doubling paid maternity leave for sailors from six weeks to 12 weeks, meaning sailors in Groton could have more time off with their babies.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus hopes this proposal will help retain more women in the Navy and Marines.

“You need that time to bond with your baby,” said Ellen Thompson of Stonington.

Most women News 8 spoke with near the submarine base in Groton applaud the Secretary’s effort to be more family friendly.

“They need to be with their children,” said Groton’s Jan Gibbs. “If they are going to be assigned somewhere, they can at least bond in the very beginning.”

“I think it’s a really good idea,” said Becky Mercy of Mystic. “I think that the women deserve it.”

Her mom and dad are officers in the Navy.

“Going back to work was the worst day of my life. It was awful,” said Thompson. “I wanted to stay home forever with my baby.”

As of January, the Department of Defense says there were more than 200,000 active-duty women, and some say policies like longer paid maternity leave may help keep more of them serving longer. It’s not clear if other military branches will copy the plan.

“Our service people, men and women, just do too much. They do so much for all of us. I hope we appreciate it,” said Gibbs.

Extending paid maternity leave would need legislative approval.

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