The Government is to try to attract more women into the armed forces by offering flexible working patterns to fit in with family life.
Proposals included in the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill include part-time service and special arrangements to ensure individuals are not deployed too far away from home.
Personnel returning from maternity, parental or adoption leave will be offered "more options to support an easier transition back into duty".
The measures were announced at a time when the full-time trained strength of the regular forces stands at 138,350 - which is well short of the 144,200 target for 2020.
The armed forces have a target to increase the proportion of female personnel from the current 10.2% to 15% by 2020.
The new bill is designed to make good on a promise in the Conservative manifesto to "attract and retain the best men and women for our armed forces, including by engaging them on a flexible basis".
Ministers said the bill would provide servicemen and women with:
"Modern, flexible opportunities to serve their country in a way that allows them to better balance their family responsibilities and which better suits their lifestyle aspirations and circumstances".
It will allow the services to be "more representative of the people that they serve and have more choice in the way they live and work", said the Government.
The Armed Forces Act of 2006 will be amended to enable forms of part-time service and "limited geographical employment" within regular units.
The bill applies to the whole of the UK, the Isle of Man and British overseas territories, but not Gibraltar.