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On the heels of Netflix's dramatically revamped leave policy, Microsoft introduced a new plan

Parental leave

Microsoft announces enhanced policy giving new moms and dads 12 weeks of fully paid leave

By Andrew Tavani on August 5, 2015

A day after Netflix earned widespread praise by announcing a sweeping new policy that offers new parents a full year of maternity or paternity leave at full salary, software giant Microsoft announced it is enhancing its current leave policy.

In a statement posted on the company’s corporate blog, Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s executive vice president of human resources, wrote, “As we ask our employees to bring their ‘A’ game to work every day to achieve our mission, we believe it’s our responsibility to create an environment where people can do their best work. A key component of this is supporting our employees with benefits that matter most to them.”

Hogan said Microsoft would roll out the enhanced leave policies for U.S. employees first. Currently, the company provides eight weeks of fully paid maternity disability leave for new mothers, plus 12 weeks of parental leave for all parents of new children, four are of which paid and eight of which are unpaid.

Under the new policy, parental leave will be increased to 12 weeks and paid at 100 percent. All mothers and fathers of new children will be eligible to receive that benefit. “For birth mothers, this is in addition to the eight weeks of maternity disability leave they currently receive, paid at 100 percent, enabling them to now take a total of 20 weeks of fully paid leave if they choose,” Hogan said in the statement.

The changes are significant, though the new leave policy still falls well short of the aggressive standard Netflix set with Tuesday’s announcement. And compared to some other big name tech companies, Microsoft is now right in the ballpark with what is offered by other industry leaders.

According to The Atlantic, Google offers new moms 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, Facebook gives new moms 16 weeks and Twitter provides new mothers with 20 paid weeks of maternity leave.

Similar to the Netflix policy, Microsoft is building in some major flexibility for new parents. “Eligible parents will now have the option to take their parental leave either in one continuous 12-week period or split into two periods. These parents will also have the option to phase back into work on a half-time basis,” Hogan explained.

Hogan said U.S retail employees would see similarly enhanced benefits and that Microsoft will continue reviewing its policies for employees in other countries.

“These changes are in direct support of the culture we aspire to have — one that allows people to build meaningful careers,” she said in the statement.

Microsoft’s stock was up four cents Wednesday and closed at $47.58 per share.

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