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Microsoft Sweetens Parental Leave Benefits, Following Netflix's Lead

Netflix may have started a tech company trend when it upped the game for parental leave benefits for its employees.
Image: Microsoft
Microsoft is expanding its parental leave benefit for employees. Sven Hoppe / EPA

A day after the video-streaming company Netflix announced it would offer "unlimited" maternity and paternity leave through the first year after a child's birth, Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled enhanced parental leave and other benefits for its employees.

"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," Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft's executive vice president for human resources, said in a blog post. "A key component of this is supporting our employees with benefits that matter most to them."

Related: Oh, Mama! Netflix to Offer 'Unlimited' Leave for New Parents

Right now, Microsoft offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave, plus 12 weeks of parental leave for all new parents, of which four are paid and eight unpaid. Starting in November, all 12 weeks of parental leave will be paid. That means new mothers can now take a total of 20 weeks of fully paid leave if they choose. Additionally, expectant mothers can now also take two weeks off prior to their due date as short-term disability leave "to manage the physical impact that often comes with late pregnancy and to prepare for the upcoming birth." And eligible employees can choose to take parental leave in one continuous 12-week stretch or split it into two chunks.

Microsoft announced two other expanded employee perks beginning in 2016. The company will add Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day to its list of paid holidays. And it will boost its 401(k) match from 50 percent of the first 6 percent of pay that employees defer, to 50 percent of all regular deferrals, up to the IRS limit.

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"We will continue to listen to employee feedback to establish benefits and build an overall employee experience that raises the bar in our industry, creates a more inclusive environment, and recognizes the importance of our people to the continued success of Microsoft," Hogan wrote.