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Microsoft offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave due to pandemic

The tech giant is the latest employer to beef up benefits and offer extra support for employees working at home.
By: | April 13, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

Microsoft is offering up to three months of paid parental leave to employees facing school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new 12-week paid leave policy can be taken all at once or intermittently. Washington state, where the tech giant is headquartered, has physically closed schools for the remainder of the school year.

Read all of HRE’s coronavirus coverage here.

The leave policy was first reported by Business Insider, which cited an internal April 6 email from Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene to employees.

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“The HR leadership team heard your feedback and requests for greater flexibility and time off to help accommodate WFH schedules as you face extended school closures,” DelBene wrote in the email. “To help alleviate some of this pressure, we are extending your leave options.”

The move is the latest example of employers beefing up benefits—including perks for parents as schools remain shuttered throughout the country—to help employees during the outbreak, though Microsoft’s is one of the most generous to date.

Target said recently it is giving all its employees access to a backup family care benefit—a plan that was previously offered to some Target workers—to help employees through the pandemic. The retailer rolled out a backup daycare benefit last fall, providing workers with 20 days of “in-center childcare or in-home child- and eldercare” through a partner network. In light of coronavirus, the retailer is waiving eligibility requirements, copays and other program details.

“In the face of school and other care-facility closures, backup care will be available to all, including frontline team members who are doing so much right now,” Target CEO and Chairman Brian Cornell said in a statement.

CVS Health also rolled out a childcare and eldercare benefit that will give employees up to 25 fully covered days of backup care. The benefit—offered through provider Bright Horizons—is available for both full- and part-time employees.

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Meanwhile, other companies like Facebook and Ally Financial handed out bonuses to help employees with incremental expenses.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.

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