Microsoft announced today a handful of benefits improvements for its American employees, with the biggest change coming for new parents: new mothers will get 12 weeks of maternity leave at 100 percent pay, on top of eight weeks of maternity disability leave, also at 100 percent pay. The previous policy offered just four weeks of paid maternity leave and a further eight of unpaid maternity leave, in addition to the disability maternity period.
New fathers will also now receive the same 12 weeks at full pay. The 12-week period can be taken in one or two blocks, and both parents will be able to return to work on a phased basis, starting half-time before going full-time.
This new policy comes amid an increased focus both on the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry—and the various institutional effects leading to this—and the importance and availability of benefits in the “gig economy” as workers fight to be recognized as employees so that they can be eligible for health insurance and paid leave. Netflix yesterday announced a policy of unlimited leave during the first year after a child’s birth for both mothers and fathers.
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