Kennecott Utah Copper employees who are the primary caregiver of a newborn or adopted baby will get 18 weeks of paid parental leave, under a new worldwide policy of Rio Tinto, the mining and metals conglomerate that includes Kennecott.

The new extended leave, which is offered to both men and women, was announced Thursday at a town hall for Kennecott employees at the Bingham Canyon Mine and in the company’s smelter operations. The company will give secondary caregivers one week of paid leave in the first year after a birth or adoption.

Kennecott has 2,220 employees in Utah who could take advantage of the two options, said company spokesman Kyle Bennett.

“Employees taking paid parental leave can focus on family duties knowing their job will be protected while they’re away,” said Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques in a news release. “In many countries, such as the United States, this is a significant improvement over legal requirements and practices of multinational peers.”

“This new approach,” Jacques added, “reflects our values as a company, particularly our focus on the well-being of our people and improving the diversity of our workforce. To attract and retain the best people, we need to provide a work environment that supports all families and offers new parents flexibility regarding early childcare choices.”

The benefit is available to full-time employees and others on fixed-term contracts. The policy goes into effect for Kennecott employees on Oct. 1 and will be phased in next year across the globe, “in accordance with relevant laws and regulations,” Jacques said.