Mi­crosoft to con­trac­tors: Give new par­ents paid leave

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - BUSINESS - By Matt O’Brien

Mi­crosoft will be­gin re­quir­ing its con­trac­tors to of­fer their U.S. em­ploy­ees paid leave to care for a new child.

It’s com­mon for tech firms to of­fer gen­er­ous fam­ily leave ben­e­fits for their own soft­ware en­gi­neers and other full-time staff, but paid leave ad­vo­cates say it’s still rare to re­quire sim­i­lar ben­e­fits for con­tracted workers such as jan­i­tors, land­scap­ers, cafe­te­ria crews and soft­ware con­sul­tants.

“Given its size and its reach, this is a unique and hope­fully trail­blaz­ing of­fer­ing,” said Vicki Shabo, vice pres­i­dent at the Na­tional Part­ner­ship for Women and Fam­i­lies.

The new pol­icy af­fects busi­nesses with at least 50 U.S.-based em­ploy­ees that do sub­stan­tial work with Mi­crosoft that in­volves ac­cess to its build­ings or its com­put­ing net­work. It doesn’t af­fect sup­pli­ers of goods. Con­trac­tors would have to of­fer at least 12 weeks of leave to those work­ing with Mi­crosoft; the pol­icy wouldn’t af­fect the con­trac­tors’ ar­range­ments with other com­pa­nies. Leave-tak­ers would get 66 per­cent of reg­u­lar pay, up to $1,000 weekly.

The pol­icy an­nounced Thurs­day rolls out over the next year as the com­pany amends its con­tracts with those ven­dors. That may mean some of Mi­crosoft’s costs will rise to cover the new ben­e­fits, said Dev Stahlkopf, the com­pany’s cor­po­rate vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral coun­sel.

“That’s just fine, and we think it’s well worth the price,” she said.

Mi­crosoft doesn’t dis­close how many con­tracted workers it uses, but it’s in the thou­sands.

The new pol­icy ex­pands on Mi­crosoft’s 2015 pol­icy re­quir­ing con­trac­tors to of­fer paid sick days and va­ca­tion. That sparked other com­pa­nies such as Face­book to make sim­i­lar com­mit­ments. Face­book doesn’t guar­an­tee that con­tract workers re­ceive paid parental leave, but pro­vides a $4,000 new child ben­e­fit for new par­ents who don’t get leave.

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