Microsoft is rolling out a worldwide leave policy that allows employees to take up to four weeks to care for sick kids and family members. Considered by many a play to provide stellar benefits as more tech companies vie for employees, Microsoft officials note the move will reduce strain for employees experiencing adversity at home.
The new benefit called “family caregiver leave”, adds to Microsoft’s existing paternity leave policy and gives four fully-paid weeks of leave to care for an immediate family member who is suffering from a serious health condition. According to the LinkedIn announcement from EVP of Human Resources at Microsoft Kathleen Hogan, the perk is currently available to all U.S. employees as well as 22 countries across the globe.
The move suggests the importance of good paid leave policies for employees other than parents with a new child. This is particularly true as the U.S. population ages and the need to care for older adults is increasingly foisted on family members, most often women, who report that the care has interfered with their income. One recent report suggested that paid family leave was necessary in order for family members to receive the increasingly skilled training necessary to care for family members that once would have been handled by professional nursing staff.
Microsoft continues to be on the cutting edge of corporate leave policies, shining a light on the significant gap between them and companies like J.P. Morgan Chase. The financial giant was recently sued by the ACLU after a man was told he could not receive the full amount of leave given to “primary caregivers” because he was a father and not a mother.
But Microsoft’s policy also magnifies the lack of a national paid leave policy for millions of Americans in low-skilled jobs with paltry benefits. A national push for a paid leave policy, such as the one suggested in a breakthrough bipartisan report from the Brooking Institute in collaboration with the American Enterprise Institute, would be a boon to citizens everywhere. Even those who don’t know anything about coding.