Microsoft Says It Will Drop Biz Partners That Don’t Offer Paid Family Leave

By Una Dabiero for Fairygodboss

Some of the perks of working in big tech are the benefits they offer to attract top talent. Generous pay, generous leave, and, you guessed it, ping pong tables, are the norm at most tech giants. However, the people who provide support services to these companies are often left behind when it comes to competitive benefits. Or really, any benefits at all.

Microsoft is changing this disparity. The company has announced that it will only sign contracts with service providers who give their employees at least 12 weeks of paid family leave. Analysts who spoke to the Wall Street Journal suggest this is the first time a large company has used its influence to assure paid family leave for the employees of its partners.

The “PC” company currently partners with over 1,000 service firms across the country, many of whom will be forced to change their policies to continue business.

Microsoft’s corporate vice president and general counsel said the requirement dictates both biological and adoptive parents must receive at least 12 weeks of leave at two-thirds of their wages. It does not exclude small companies.

This requirement is much more generous than current federal leave policies. In the United States, federal law only guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees at companies with more than 50 employees. Employees at small companies are not protected.

While this is a huge step for ensuring paid leave for all, it isn’t the first time Microsoft has used it’s influence to push for employee equality. Three years ago, Microsoft required its partners to provide employees at least 15 days of paid sick or vacation time. Talk about walking the walk.

You can read the full announcement from Microsoft in a blog post written by Dev Stahlkopf, Corporate Vice President and General Counsel, by clicking here. Excerpts from the announcement can be found below:

We have long recognized that the health, well-being and diversity of our employees helps Microsoft succeed. That’s why we provide industry-leading benefits for our employees, including comprehensive health and wellness programs for families, paid vacation, paid sick leave and paid time off for new parents…

Paid time off is good both for employers and employees, and it was the right step for our business. By implementing that requirement, we were able to focus our resources on businesses that share with us a commitment providing employees with important benefits such as paid time off. We believe now is the time to work with our suppliers to take a next important step…

We recognize today’s announcement comes during an ongoing national dialogue about the importance of paid parental leave. The case for paid parental leave is clear. Studies show that paid parental leave enriches the lives of families.  Women who take paid maternity leave are more likely to be in the workforce a year later and earn more than mothers who do not receive paid time off.  Employers who offer paid time off for new mothers experience improved productivity, higher morale and lower turnover rates. And, paid parental leave is not solely a benefit for women.  Data from California’s paid family leave program shows that men take paternity leave at twice the rate and for longer periods of time when the leave is paid. This increased bonding and time spent caring for young children is correlated with positive outcomes such as higher test scores for these children. Further, when men and women have the opportunity to take paid leave, it can help counteract gender caregiving stereotypes, neutralize stigmas and promote equity in the home and office.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, a leading career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

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