How is Microsoft implementing it's 2015 requirement that it's suppliers provide at least 15 days of paid leave to their employees? How are other corporations dealing with paid leave issues? How to make things improve for millions of US workers? What about shareholder advocacy?
While working toward a third updated version of The Other Microsoft, I just found this article (among many) I had missed 4 months ago about how on June 27, 2017 Microsoft expanded the paid time off for its employees when someone is sick in their families. It's a constant pattern: Microsoft is glorified for giving more to its own employees, an attitude that would be fine if it did not completely ignore the fate of all the other people working for Microsoft via contractors who are left to fight for themselves without benefiting in any way from the fact they are de facto working full time for Microsoft. Kathleen Hogan could not claim she does not know those contractors employees exist and also would like more such benefits: she is the one we reached out to when we claimed Microsoft was a joint employer. At this point we can only see Microsoft's limits to empathy: Microsoft's empathy only goes to their own direct employees. The rest is of no concern to them. Here is Kathleen Hogan's June 27 statement on Linkedin: Families matter, that's why we are announcing Family Caregiver Leave: Family caregiver leave will allows an employee to take up to four weeks of fully paid leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.
In his book 99 to 1 Chuck Collins writes (page 98): "Policies that raise the floor reduce poverty and establish a fundamental minimum standard of decency that no one will fall below...One third of people in the United States have no paid sick days and one half have no paid vacation days. Everyone deserve the right to take (paid) time off when sick and have a few weeks of (paid) vacation each year. In the rest of the developed world, these are considered basic human rights."
As we have seen those paid leaves are incorporated in various UN human rights documents that Microsoft claimed it is committed to implement.
What's to be done to incite Microsoft to implement it's commitment so that it's suppliers employees get paid public holidays on top of the present minimal standard of 15 days of 'paid time off' and specific paid parental leave? We think shareholder activism is presently the best way to raise the issue with Microsoft's leadership.
In December 2012, Henry Blodget wrote a post in Business Insider about the Scrooge Award he gave to Corporate America. Three years later, as Xmas is coming, Microsoft and Lionbridge jointly deserve a Scrooge Award for not providing paid public holidays to all their employees. As we are not paid during those public holidays we suffer a loss of income that takes a big part of the fun out of this period as we worry about how we are going to compensate for this $ loss. Could it be possible that Microsoft does not know its trusted Lionbridge supplier does not pay for public holidays? It is doubtful as Microsoft directly profits by not paying either for those public holidays. Yes, some suppliers are more human and do pay those days to their workers (like WIPRO does). As we noted in the previous post, Microsoft should require all its suppliers to provide paid public holidays as this is clearly mentioned in article 7 (d) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: "Rest, leisure and reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay, as well as remuneration for public holidays ", and Microsoft claims it is committed to implement this Convention. We'll keep denouncing this Scrooge-like behavior until it changes. Of course in these times of celebrating a nativity we'll add to our outrage the lack of any paid parental leave. The Universal Declaration of HumanRights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also contain dispositions for pregnant moms. Article 25.2 of the UDHR states: "Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance". Article 10.2 of the Internal Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states: "Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits." 50 years later, as this Convention was adopted in 1966, these benefits are still not required by Microsoft for all its suppliers. Although this Convention was never ratified by the US Senate, Microsoft voluntarily committed itself to implement all its content (as far as it was relevant to its responsibilities as a multinational corporation) when they joined the UN Global Compact in ... 2006. 9 years later Microsoft is still not respecting its commitment to implement dispositions adopted 50 years ago and implemented routinely in most industrialized countries, including by Microsoft's subsidiaries operating in those countries. Lionbridge Technologies does not give a damn about the UN Global Compact but their subsidiaries in other countries also have to respect those dispositions. Only in the US...
Here is Microsoft's Global Human Rights Statement. It derives from 2006 Microsoft signature into the UN Global Compact that aims at improving how multinational corporations promote human rights. You could think this is far away from the issues of paid leaves but when Microsoft commits itself to the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions (including the C-132 Annual Holidays with Pay Convention?) those documents refer to specific standards as far as paid leaves are concerned: article 24 of the Declaration makes 'periodic holidays with pay" a human right and the C-132 Convention makes 3 weeks the minimum standard for paid vacation (article 3), excluding the legal holidays that have to be added to those 3 weeks (article 6).
Microsoft follows those standards for its full time employees and Lionbridge almost does as well except the length of paid time off they offer to their FTEs start at 12 days, instead of 15. Both companies compensate they FTEs during the legal holidays and do not include them as PTO.
We think the same standard should apply to all Microsoft's supplier's employees.