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Microsoft employees can now take time off to care for sick loved ones. (BigStock Photo)

Microsoft is rolling out a new paid family leave benefit to employees around the world. The Family Caregiver Leave policy allows employees to take up to four weeks of paid leave to care for immediate family members, such as parents or children, with serious health conditions.

The new perk, announced today, reflects a broader trend in the tech world, where big companies are adding increasingly generous benefits to compete for coveted tech talent and respond to shifting societal expectations. Netflix, for example, offers unlimited paid leave for new parents for the first year after their child is born. Airbnb offers a $2,000 annual travel stipend for employees.

As of today, paid family leave is available for Microsoft employees in 22 countries. The company will roll out the benefit to employees everywhere over the next few months.

“I’ve often said that life happens when you’re working,” said Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, in a LinkedIn post announcing the new benefit. “And it’s true. We will all face difficult times that bleed over into work — no one is immune. As a global employer, we know it’s up to us to continually evaluate the needs of our workforce and provide market-leading benefits and programs to support our employees — at work and at home.”

Microsoft’s existing benefits for U.S. employees include 12 weeks of paid parental leave, paid gym memberships, and charitable donation matching. The new caregiver leave policy would make Microsoft automatically compliant with a new state-wide mandate that’s under consideration in Olympia.

Lawmakers are getting close to a deal that would require employers in Washington state to offer 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a new child or ailing family member or to recover from a disabling injury. If passed, the policy would provide workers in Washington with the best-paid family leave benefits in the nation. The Seattle City Council is also considering a city-wide family leave mandate.

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