Three Year Maternity Leave
Last fall, Facebook and Apple announced that they were going to offer employees the opportunity to freeze their eggs, and they expected women to weep with gratitude. Last week, the Air Force showed up like the big, brawny hunk in the 1960s beach romp movie, kicking sand on the 98-pound computer weaklings. Not only are they offering three YEARS of maternity leave, but that leave can be accessed by men AND women for a plethora of reasons including caring for a spouse or parent or returning to school.
The Career Intermission Program allows men and women to leave the Air Force for up to three years with the promise that their job will be there for them when they return. They will continue to receive medical and dental coverage. They’ll also be given 1/15th of their monthly salary, which obviously isn’t enough to live on, but still helps during a time when you’re not actively working.
The trade off is that you give the Air Force double the amount of active duty as you took off. So if you take off the full three years, you give them six years of active duty when you return. Take off one year and you give two years when you return.
Not a bad promise to make if you already intended to have a military career. You get to be home for family building AND return to work down the road without worrying about where you’ll work. There will be a period of retraining, but because you are certain of where you will be working when you return, you can keep up to date with new developments in your field knowing that you’ll use the information.
Of course, the Air Force can do this because they are an enormous entity that comes with the expectation that all workers will need to constantly shift and move for their career. They can slide a new person into a position for a few years, and then slide them out when the original person returns. I’m not sure how a small business could hold a spot for three years and run efficiently, or even a school, even though teachers often shift positions. But it’s worth smaller entities exploring the idea and figuring out how to make this work on a smaller scale.
Because up to three years of leave that could be used however YOU need to use it; not just limited to a certain reason or sex or situation? That makes me wish I wasn’t so scared of planes.