TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner today announced the creation of a new family leave policy providing all qualifying parents who work fulltime for Cherokee Nation 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.
Chief Hoskin announced the new and expanded policies while visiting with members of his cabinet, the Council of the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation employees, including employees who could soon benefit from the new leave options.
“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 Our employee families are modern in that sometimes they include parents who, under more outdated policies, might not have received a leave option.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.
“Chief Hoskin and I are both fathers and this is near and dear to our hearts,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “We really want to take a holistic approach to how we handle what I like to call ‘life in balance.’ Providing time for both parents to be available and tuned in to the needs of their family unit is priceless. That is also true of our employees who are foster or adoptive parents. When an employee chooses to open their hearts and their homes to children, whether they are fostering or adopting, our updated policy now provides them an option to take even more time to really focus in on that new family unit. I know that will be a blessing to many of our Cherokee Nation employees and their families.”
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 date and the adoption was 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.”
Changes to the tribe’s existing foster leave policy add an additional five days of paid leave for qualifying fulltime employees who are certified through Cherokee Nation Indian Child Welfare when they have a new foster placement.
Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner also worked with Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett to create paid parental and adoption leave for eligible employees of the tribe’s business arm. CNB now offers two weeks of paid leave time, separate from maternity leave, for the birth or adoption of a child.
“Our outstanding tribal and business workforce is the key to the incredible and ongoing success of Cherokee Nation and its businesses,” said Garrett. “I am extremely grateful to Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner for their continued leadership and steadfast support of our employees and their families.”