After a month of watching employees juggle 30 hours a day worth of work, childcare, homeschooling, and housework, Microsoft said that it will extend three months’ paid parental leave to all full-time employees. The policy follows the announcement earlier this week that Washington State schools will be closed for the rest of the school year (the state superintendent mused that school closures may continue into fall).
Full-time employees of Microsoft can now choose how and when to take the leave, whether in long chunks or a few days each week. Business Insider first reported the policy in a leaked memo, which was also confirmed by CNN.
Many tech companies have long offered friendly maternity and paternity leave policies, some 16 weeks or more, though male employees tend to underutilize them—which in practice further disadvantages women. (The public explanation for this is that men fear stigma and career harm. Women in tech mutter the more obvious explanation, that work life is much more pleasant than home life with small children.) Similar parent-leave dynamics are commonplace in academia, where fathers often use paternity leave to work on research papers.
Perhaps the all-hands-needed urgency of the pandemic will nudge these policies into more equitable use, and other companies will follow suit.