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Microsoft’s Kenya unit staff to get six-week paternity leave

Microsoft Kenya General Manager Kunle Awosika. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Microsoft Kenya General Manager Kunle Awosika. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Male employees at the Kenyan unit of global computer software giant Microsoft are set to benefit from six-week paternity leave, three times the legally set timeframe of two weeks.

Microsoft on Tuesday announced that the female employees would get five-month maternity leave to bond with their newborn babies, two months above the minimum Kenyan legal allowance of three months.

The tech firm in a statement said the new leave policy would apply across its sub-Saharan Africa offices.

The Nairobi regional Microsoft office with about 70 workers comprises Kenya, East Africa and sub-Saharan Africa teams.

Microsoft has also introduced a family caregiver leave benefit of four weeks to its employers with any of its immediate family member with a serious health condition.

The firm previously allowed a fully paid, three-month maternity leave and a two-week break to fathers in line with the Kenyan law.

Many local companies frown upon and habitually breach the paternity and maternity breaks, viewing them as additional labour cost when they are forced to hire temporary workers.

“We regard our staff as the lifeblood of our brand, and we place the highest priority on supporting them in all the many aspects of their lives, both inside and outside the workplace,” said Microsoft general manager for West, East, and Central Africa Amr Kamel.

“Microsoft takes great pride in its position as one of the leading employers in the Africa region, and we are delighted to inform our employees of the new benefits, which take effect with immediate effect.”

The change comes two years after Microsoft introduced 20-week paid leave to new mothers and 12-week paid time off for non-birth parents in the US.

“Microsoft understands that family is the most important thing there is. We remain committed to driving a culture of diversity and inclusivity across our company, providing leave benefits to mothers, fathers and caregivers is just one of the ways we honour that commitment,” he said.

More time

The tech firm joins global giants like Netflix, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Nestle that have revised the number of maternity and paternity leave upwards over the past three years.

In 2015, global telecom giant Vodafone increased the fully-paid maternity leave from three to four months across 30 countries.

Vodafone’s programme also introduced a provision for employees returning from leave to work half-day for six months on their full pay.

A survey by KPMG found that recruiting and training new employees to replace those who leave after giving birth costs multinationals approximately $47 billion (Sh4.7 trillion) every year.

The report also noted that offering women 16 weeks of fully paid leave, as opposed to the minimum legal limit, would cost the firms an extra $28 billion (Sh2.8 trillion) every year.

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