Microsoft Corp. said it will offer 12 weeks of paid time off to all new parents, improving its policy as the issues of gender equity and family balance gain greater prominence in the technology industry.
Combined with the previously available leave of eight weeks for maternity disability, that means new mothers can now take a total of 20 weeks of leave fully paid, the company said in a blog post Wednesday.
The workforce in the technology industry remains largely white and male. While Silicon Valley has been under pressure to diversify, the treatment of women has been a particularly significant issue in the aftermath of former partner Ellen Pao’s sex-bias case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Netflix Inc. said Tuesday that new mothers and fathers can take as much as one year of paid time off after a child’s birth or adoption, in what is probably the most generous parental leave policy in the U.S.
Previously, Microsoft had offered the eight weeks disability for mothers, plus 12 weeks of parental leave with four weeks paid and eight unpaid. The Redmond, Washington-based company also announced an increased 401(k) retirement-plan matching program and paid holidays for Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day in the U.S.
Only 12 percent of U.S. private-sector employees have access to any paid family leave through their jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. is the only nation in the developed world that doesn’t mandate maternity leave with pay.
Many large U.S. technology companies are among those that do provide paid leave. Facebook Inc. allows new parents four months of paid leave, plus $4,000 in “baby cash.” Google Inc. provides as much as 18 weeks of paid leave.
Yahoo! Inc. allows new moms who give birth as many as 16 weeks of paid leave. The leave is as long as eight weeks for dads as well as moms who welcome a new child through adoption, surrogacy or foster-child placement.
President Barack Obama in January directed federal agencies to offer six weeks of paid leave to their employees when they become new parents as part of a broader push to extend parental leave for U.S. workers.