Microsoft has announced that it will require most of its 2,000 contractors and vendors to provide their employees who perform work for Microsoft fifteen days of paid each year. This unique model of one company forcing other companies to adopt paid leave policies comes at a time when few American believe the federal government will be able to pass a law requiring similar policies.
Microsoft contractors with 50 or more employees will have to give employees ten paid vacation days and five sick days, or a total of fifteen days of unrestricted time off. Only the employees who work with Microsoft will be required to get the leave, if they have worked with the supplier for more than nine months. This move is partially a response to the many complaints coming from contract workers working alongside full-time Microsoft employees with better benefits. Microsoft employees receive ten sick days and fifteen to twenty five vacation days, depending on how long they have been with the company.
Instead of waiting on federal legislation like the pending bill for a Healthy Families Act, which if passed would give workers seven days of paid sick leave, technology are starting to change employee leave policies themselves. Before Microsoft announced that it would be requiring its contractors to provide workers with paid sick leave, Google and Apple hired security guards as full-time employees, instead of using contract workers. Facebook gave its shuttle drivers substantial raises after they unionized.
Technology companies are financially suited to lead the way and raise the floor for the contract work force. According to the advocacy group Working Partnerships USA, 88% of computer jobs in Silicon Valley provide paid sick days, whereas only 41% of building and grounds-cleaning positions have paid sick days.
While three states and a few cities have passed paid sick leave policies, 43 million American workers remain without paid sick leave. The United States is the only advanced economy that does not require paid sick leave.
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