Change allows Citizen Airmen to serve throughout pregnancy
/ Published February 03, 2017
WASHINGTON -- A recent change to Air Force policy now allows pregnant members of the Air Force Reserve on active duty support orders to serve throughout their pregnancy.
Prior to the change, AF Reserve members were taken off active duty support orders at their 34th week of pregnancy, regardless of whether or not they were medically able to continue to serve. Mr. Gabriel O. Camarillo, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, signed the new policy Dec. 20, 2016. It now allows Reservists to serve through the end of their orders, or the birth of the child, whichever comes first. The policy also changes some of the rules regarding maternity leave eligibility.
“The new policy allows for maximum flexibility and utilization of member capabilities, while providing for the health and safety of the member and their baby,” said Col. Pamela Powers, reserve deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. “This new policy is just another step in our onward journey toward being a more diverse and inclusive culture. An inclusive culture enables all Airmen to make their greatest contributions to mission success.”
According to the new guidance in “Air Force Policy on Curtailing/Limiting Active Duty Operational Support Orders,” eligible members of the Reserve Components serving on active duty operations support (ADOS) orders or multiple orders for a continuous period of at least 12 months will be entitled to 12 weeks of non-chargeable maternity leave. This eligibility falls in line with DoD guidance released in early February 2016, as well as the recent change in law that was passed in the Fiscal Year 2017 NDAA.
“The key is eligibility,” explained Powers. “A critical factor in obtaining non-chargeable maternity leave is a continuous ADOS order or multiple set of orders. If a Reservist goes off ADOS orders to participate or attend Inactive Duty Training or Unit Training Assembly periods, it constitutes a break in orders and negates the 12-month continuous period, which in turn, makes them ineligible for the 12 weeks of non-chargeable maternity leave.”
Pregnant Citizen Airmen on shorter tours can serve until the original order termination date, or the date of birth plus any accrued ordinary leave, whichever is earlier. In some instances, Air Force Reservists can have their ADOS orders extended past the 12-month pregnancy threshold if there is a valid requirement, funding is available and both their permanent unit and supported unit commanders approve.
“However, there are limitations and exceptions to serving throughout a pregnancy,” Powers explained. “The supported commander will determine whether duty limitations would prevent the Airman from performing her duties, whether she can be transferred to other duties or if necessary, a curtailment of the orders,” Powers said.