Microsoft Requires Suppliers Give Their Employees 15 Days of Paid Sick Leave

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

April 2 — Software giant Microsoft March 26 announced it is requiring “a wide variety of suppliers that do business with Microsoft in the U.S. provide their employees who handle our work with at least 15 days of paid leave each year.”

Over the next 12 months, the company will implement the requirement with its suppliers that have 50 or more U.S. employees that they either offer “10 days of paid vacation and five days of paid sick leave or 15 days of unrestricted paid time off,” Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel & executive vice president, legal and corporate affairs, said in a March 26 blog post. “It will apply to their U.S. employees who have worked for them for more than nine months (1,500 hours) and who perform substantial work for Microsoft.”

Smith added that since Microsoft is the first large company to impose such a mandate on its suppliers, it is starting “a broad consultation process with our suppliers so we can solicit feedback and learn from them about the best way to phase in the specific details.”

Microsoft is taking the action because “paid time off benefits both employers and employees by contributing to a happier and more productive workforce,” and “the lack of paid time off disproportionately impacts low-wage earners,” Smith wrote, adding: “By taking this new step, we will focus our resources on doing business with companies that share a commitment to providing these types of strong benefits for employees.”

‘An Interesting First Step.'

Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, told Bloomberg BNA in an interview April 2 that Microsoft's move is “an interesting first step we haven't seen others do.” She agreed with Smith about the benefits of paid sick leave. Studies show that employees are “one-and-one-half times more likely to go to work sick if there is no paid sick leave,” and that for low-wage workers “about three-and-a-half unpaid days away from work jeopardizes their ability to buy groceries,” Shabo said.

She noted that Microsoft's move comes on the crest of a wave of state and local government initiatives to mandate paid sick leave. Three states, the District of Columbia and 17 localities “have or will soon have paid sick leave laws,” she said. Among the latest are Bloomfield, N.J. and Tacoma, Washington, while Washington's state Senate is now considering a paid sick leave bill that has already passed the state House.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at mbermangorvine@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com

Smith's blog post can be viewed at http://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2015/03/26/paid-time-off-matters-ensuring-minimum-standards-for-the-people-at-our-suppliers/.