TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – Some full-time employees of the Cherokee Nation will soon be able to enjoy a new family leave policy.

On Thursday, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner announced the creation of a new family leave policy providing all qualifying parents who work for the Cherokee Nation fulltime with paid time off for the birth of a child or adoption through the tribe’s Indian Child Welfare department.

The policy also expands the tribe’s existing paid foster parent leave by adding an extra five days of leave.

“The benefits of offering paid leave for families has been well-established,” Chief Hoskin said. “We know it’s crucial to provide new parents with paid time off as they experience the birth of a child, and for years the Cherokee Nation has provided eight weeks paid leave for mothers who work for the tribe. Our new policy ensures we not only continue offering our maternal leave, but that we have found a way to recognize and support the many wonderful ways our employees’ families can be structured. Our employee families are modern in that sometimes they include parents who, under more outdated policies, might not have received a leave option. Our policies also did not provide leave for adoption, so it was time for us to recognize those needs and really set the tone for celebrating our employees and their families.”

Under the new Cherokee Nation Family Leave Policy, qualifying parents who do not currently qualify for maternity leave now have up to two weeks of paid leave, payable at 100 percent of their salary, for the birth of a child or adoption of a child.

Cherokee Nation government employees qualify for the new family leave if they have worked regular fulltime for the tribe for at least one year from the date of the child’s birth or adoption. If the child is adopted, the adoption must be completed through Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare.

“Under existing Cherokee Nation policy, some of our employee fathers were able to take up to six weeks of their own accrued leave after the birth of their children depending on a number of factors, and that was protected under the Family Medical Leave Act,” said Chief of Staff Corey Bunch. “I’m proud to say that Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner really listened to our employees and today we are able to honor our employees and their families with an inclusive and modern approach to family leave.”

Officials say the tribe also teamed up with Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett to create paid parental and adoption leave for eligible employees of the tribe’s business sector.

CNB now offers two weeks of paid leave time, separate from maternity leave, for the birth or adoption of a child.