A Novel Way to Mandate Sick Leave, From Microsoft

Today’s post was shared by The New York Times and comes from www.nytimes.com

Bradford L. Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said the company was in part responding to complaints from contract employees who did not have the same benefits as full-time employees. Credit Jordan Stead for The New York Times

It is difficult to imagine, at least in the current political climate, that the federal government would require paid sick leave for workers, let alone vacation time.

But the White House announced Wednesday that senior officials, including the labor secretary, would begin a monthlong roadshow around the country to promote paid leave. And in his State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to pass a bill giving workers seven days of paid sick leave.

But any federal requirement would need the support of Congress, a tough obstacle.

Yet there is another, emerging model: companies forcing other companies to adopt these policies. On Thursday morning, Microsoft announced that it would require many of its 2,000 contractors and vendors to provide their employees who perform work for Microsoft with 15 paid days off for sick days and vacation time.

In some ways, it’s a uniquely American solution. In the absence of a federal policy, the biggest and wealthiest companies are performing the role of setting workplace policy for other businesses.

As the economy has become more dependent on contract workers, workers’ rights advocates have voiced concern about their working conditions, especially for low-skilled jobs.

The situation…

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