Microsoft Expands Paid Leave for Family Caregivers

Jun 27, 2017

Microsoft is upping the ante on paid leave for employees who need to take care of a sick relative. The company is now offering four weeks of paid leave with an eight additional weeks unpaid time. Before now, the company offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Workers typically take this sort of time to care for a sick or elderly family member.

The new benefit, which applies to employees with a close family member suffering from a "serious health condition" as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act, was disclosed Tuesday in a LinkedIn blog post by Microsoft (msft) chief people officer Kathleen Hogan.

The benefit is available now to Microsoft employees in 22 countries and will expand worldwide over the next six months, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. Microsoft employs about 121,000 people globally.

Related: Why the Internet Is Failing Seniors

Two years ago, consulting company Deloitte said its employees get 16 weeks of paid family care leave. In February of this year, Facebook (fb) expanded its employee benefits to include 20 days of paid leave to grieve the loss of an immediate family member and up to six weeks of paid time to take care of sick relatives.

Several tech companies offer unlimited paid time off (PTO) or discretionary time off that could be used for family care, according to Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago firm that tracks employment and benefits trends. These companies include Netflix (nflx), and Hubspot (hub).

LinkedIn, the business focused social network which Microsoft bought last year, has offered its U.S. employees six weeks of paid family care leave since 2014.

In this case, Microsoft is offering paid time off that is separate from other vacation time or holidays that its employees get.

John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said companies are very concerned about recruiting and retaining top talent. "They ask employees what they want and need and what they hear is people want help with work life balance," he said. A company's besy people tend to be the people that get poached, so it's important to make them happier across the board, he added.

The fact that Microsoft posted this new benefit publicly on LinkedIn is no surprise. Tech employers vying with each other for the best candidates know they need to offer compelling benefits to win and want to get the word out.

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In a report released Tuesday, Challenger Gray & Christmas described an arms race being waged by companies wanting to hire the best people. Among non-family caregiver perks some companies are dangling include help in repaying student loans, gym memberships, sabbaticals, and healthcare insurance for pets.

Note: (June 27, 2017 2:32 p.m. ET) This story was updated to add details on LinkedIn's paid leave and John Challenger's comments.

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