With children home from school due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Microsoft has moved to pay its parent employees to not work right now so they can be there for their little ones during this unprecedented and stressful time. Microsoft's "12-Week Paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leave" policy aims to make life a little easier for its full-time employees who are trying to juggle work and their children's education.
Business Insider first reported the news after an internal memo that contained details of the new leave policy leaked last week. Microsoft described the move as an attempt to "give our employees greater flexibility and time off as they face extended school closures," a spokesperson told CNN. According to Fast Company, parents employed by the company have options of how and when to use the leave. For example, parents can either leave for a three-month stretch or use their leave a few days a week.
Most recent reports from UNESCO estimate that more than 91% of the world's student population has been impacted by school closures and many schools in the United States have announced that schools will remain closed through the end of the year, such as schools in the company's home state of Washington. By allowing parents the option of staying home with their children during school closures, Microsoft is alleviating a bit of the stress placed on parents by the disruptions of routine and the added pressure of maintaining their children's education.
While many companies have had to either lay off or furlough employees as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, some have released policies like Microsoft to help ease financial burdens during this difficult time. Facebook, for example, announced last month that it would give each of its 45,000 employees $1,000 on top of continuing to pay hourly and contract workers in full through times of reduced work hours, according to NBC News. Google is also offering parents the option of taking additional leave, according to The Los Angeles Times. Similarly, Facebook is providing employees with children four weeks off if facing closures, as well as an additional six weeks of emergency care leave for employees with ill family members, CNBC reported.
The stress of the coronavirus outbreak is weighing heavy on everyone, but parents with kids out of school are in a uniquely difficult position. The world, especially right now, could certainly use more compassionate and flexible policies like these.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.