Human Resources News & Insights

Microsoft ups ante on paid leave benefits: Will other firms follow its lead?

An increasing number of companies are offering generous paid parental leave benefits to employees, and Microsoft is certainly no exception. But the tech giant recently made headlines when it unveiled a different type of paid leave benefit. 

Microsoft just rolled out a paid caregiver leave benefit to all of its 121,500 employees. Microsoft workers in 22 countries already had access to the caregiver leave before it became a companywide benefit.

The benefit gives employees up to four weeks of paid leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

‘Balancing work and caring for a loved one’

According to Microsoft, caregiver leave was one of the most requested benefits by Microsoft employees.

Microsoft HR chief Kathleen Hogan shared an extremely personal example of the benefits of caregiver leave in her announcement about the new companywide benefit on her blog.

Here is an excerpt from that announcement:

“In my own career, I’ve certainly experienced periods of investing and harvesting. Like many parents, I took time off to care for my newborn son, a harvest that I was able to plan. A few years later, I had to scale back my workload to fight breast cancer, something I clearly hadn’t planned—and thankfully my family (smiling in the photo above) was at my side during that time. As I dealt with chemotherapy and radiation treatment and focused on becoming healthy again, I met many other cancer patients whose situations required family members to dedicate countless hours to support their treatment plans and stand at their sides. Some had to navigate the dilemma of balancing work and caring for their loved one—a choice that is incredibly difficult.

 And, as I hear from employees who are in the sandwich generation—those caring for children at home while thinking about aging parents who may one day need support—I am keenly aware that these employees may face the decision of how to prioritize work while caring for a family member …

 … As a company, we’re always looking for ways to invest in our people and make Microsoft an exceptional place to work. It’s from this perspective that we’re announcing a new global benefit for our employees—family caregiver leave.”

Up to 20 weeks of paid leave

Of course, Microsoft is no stranger to generous leave benefits.

As HR Morning has reported on previously, Microsoft’s recently updated paid leave policy extends paid parental leave to 12 weeks for new mothers and fathers, while mothers can also get an additional eight weeks of paid leave.

Under Microsoft’s previous leave policy, mothers were entitled to 12 weeks of paid and eight weeks of unpaid leave, and fathers could take up to four weeks of paid time off and eight weeks of unpaid leave.

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