Being a working mom has always been challenging. But what about trying to work, homeschool, manage a household (groceries, anyone?) and take care of kids during the coronavirus global pandemic? For many parents, it's nearly impossible.
That's why so many parents are applauding the move Microsoft made last week, announcing a new program granting 12 additional weeks of paid leave to its employees who are parents with children at home.
The enviable policy was first reported by Business Insider, after an internal email sent by Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene to employees on April 6 was leaked to the outlet.
"The HR leadership team heard your feedback and requests for greater flexibility and time off to help accommodate WFH schedules as you face extended school closures," the executive wrote in the email to staff. "To help alleviate some of this pressure, we are extending your leave options."
A spokesperson confirmed the policy to CNN and added that the policy is meant to "give our employees greater flexibility and time off as they face extended school closures." Employees can choose how they use their leave, spreading it out over a few days a week or taking the full three months all at once.
Microsoft's new policy is a tremendous gift to parents who are holding a heavy burden—from attempting to 'homeschool' children and keep them academically on track, to worrying about keeping older family members safe.
If you don't work at Microsoft, consider their policy a recognition of just how hard your task is right now. It's just not possible to be a perfectly attentive parent while also staying completely focused at work. It's just not possible. Full stop. You're not doing it wrong, it's just that hard.
Some couples are navigating the burden by splitting shifts of work and childcare, while other parents have no choice but to go to work as essential workers and drop their kids at daycare. Very few parents today have a good option; in many cases, we're all just trying to survive until this pandemic recedes and schools and daycares are back in session.
While not all companies are able to afford it, and many roles don't lend themselves to remote work, this move by Microsoft provides a bright spot in a sea of upsetting headlines for parents. To the employers who get it: THANK YOU.