Microsoft to con­trac­tors: Give new par­ents paid leave

Manteca Bulletin - - Dollars & Sense/ Nation -

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — 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 the Red­mond, Wash­ing­ton-based soft­ware gi­ant; the pol­icy wouldn’t af­fect the con­trac­tors’ ar­range­ments with other com­pa­nies. Leave­tak­ers 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.

Other com­pa­nies such as Face­book have also com­mit­ted to im­prove con­trac­tor ben­e­fits amid union­iza­tion ef­forts by shut­tle driv­ers, se­cu­rity guards and other con­tract work­ers try­ing to get by in ex­pen­sive, tech-fu­eled re­gions such as the San Fran­cisco Bay Area and around Wash­ing­ton’s Puget Sound.

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. A much smaller Cal­i­for­nia tech com­pany, Sur­veyMon­key, an­nounced a paid fam­ily leave plan for its con­tract work­ers ear­lier this year.

Microsoft said its new pol­icy is par­tially in­spired by a Wash­ing­ton state law tak­ing ef­fect in 2020 guar­an­tee­ing el­i­gi­ble work­ers 12 weeks paid time off for the birth or adop­tion of a child. The state pol­icy, signed into law last year, fol­lows Cal­i­for­nia and a hand­ful of other states in al­low­ing new par­ents to tap into a fund that all work­ers pay into.

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