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Microsoft says its US contractors must offer paid parental leave

Microsoft says its US contractors must offer paid parental leave

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Microsoft is extending parental leave benefits to contractors, mandating that many employees who work with the company be given 12 weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. There are a number of caveats, but overall the policy starts to ensure that more people around the US have the privilege of recovering after birth and spending time with their newborn.

The policy applies to a wide range of companies whose employees perform work for Microsoft. “Examples could include people who staff our cafeterias and provide janitorial services to companies who provide professional services such as engineering consulting,” a spokesperson said.

Very few US workers have access to paid parental leave

It won’t apply to all companies, though. Only companies in the US that have more than 50 employees will have to extend these benefits. And even then, it’ll only cover those employees who “perform substantial work for Microsoft,” which a spokesperson clarified meant someone with work “requiring building or network access.”

For the people who are covered, they’ll be given a minimum of 12 weeks paid parental leave, receiving two-thirds of their wages, up to $1,000 per week. According to The Washington Post, the policy is designed to mirror Washington state’s recent parental leave law and expand the benefits to the 500-some companies that Microsoft works with in other states.

The benefits aren’t as generous as those received by Microsoft’s direct employees, who in 2015 were given 12 weeks of fully paid leave, with an additional eight weeks for a parent who’s given birth. But before now, Microsoft’s contractors may have received no such benefits at all — in the US, only 13 percent of private-sector workers had access to paid parental leave as of March 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Microsoft says it’ll take up to a year to implement the new policy. The company acknowledges that making these demands of its suppliers will likely lead to price increases, but it says there are “clear benefits” for both employers and employees.

This is the second time that Microsoft has used its enormous size to demand more of its suppliers. In 2015, the company began demanding that this same subset of companies give their employees 15 days of paid leave each year.

In recent years, tech companies have been paying more attention to family leave. Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook were among the companies that improved their policies in 2015. And last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg helped to set an example around paternity leave by taking time off after the birth of his second daughter.

Other companies have made efforts to push their suppliers into taking up causes that are important to them, like going green, but Microsoft seems to be leading when it comes to pushing for better employment benefits.