Microsoft Expands Its Parental Leave, Bolsters Paid Time Off And 401k Matching

On the heels of Netflix’s institution of ‘unlimited’ paid maternity and paternity leave for its employees, Microsoft this morning announced that it is bolstering its own parental leave policies for both mothers and fathers that work at the firm.

Previously, Microsoft offered eight weeks of paid maternity leave, along with 12 weeks of ‘parental leave,’ of which eight were paid, and four were not. The company is making all 12 weeks of leave now paid, starting in November, meaning that new mothers can take a full 20 weeks off, all paid.

New dads get the fully paid 12 weeks, but not the eight weeks reserved for the mom who actually gave birth.

The company will also allow expectant mothers that are nearly due to take up to two weeks off to, in the words of the company, “manage the physical impact that often comes with late pregnancy and to prepare for the upcoming birth.”

Parents can also use their 12 weeks of ‘parental leave’ in chunks, or all at once. That may allow parents to stagger when they are individually off, helping to smooth scheduling issues for families with new tots.

Microsoft also added two new paid holidays to its calendar, and dramatically increased its 401k matching program to 100 percent up to the federal limit. (Verizon, please.)

The improvements to parental leave are to be applauded. Certainly, Microsoft can afford the changes, but the non-monetary impact is what matters — the software company is helping families manage a key part in their child-bearing cycle, and is helping women who might have felt pressured into leaving their careers over their new kid to stay in the workforce.

Microsoft is a tech company, and changes like the above help tech retain more diverse talent. That’s a good thing. More of this sort of thing, please.