Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A look at paid parental leave

The site Early Childhood Education Degrees asked us to share this info-graphics about paid parental leave with our readers. It enumerates the many reasons why paid parental leave is so important. That's why we are determined to have shareholders mobilized to require companies (like Microsoft and all its suppliers) provide paid parental leave to all their employees. Contact us if you are a Microsoft shareholder and you want to support our initiative.

Unfair implementation of Microsoft's paid time off requirement? Reaching out to Microsoft integrity Hotline.

Colleagues working along us via a different supplier told us they would only be able to accrue PTO six months from now, that is  in October. We think this is a violation of the requirement and an attempt to deny those employees PTO that should start accruing right now. It's already shocking that all those suppliers waited until the very last moment to implement this requirement, they should not add insult to the injury by trying to abusively postpone even more this implementation. We have sent a complaint (see below) to Microsoft's Business Conduct and Compliance Team but 5 days later we have not received their answer yet (if ever). We have kept mentioning (for now) the name of this supplier. We'll keep you posted. The link to Microsoft's Integrity Hotline:

Dear Business Conduct and Compliance Team,
I am concerned that our colleagues working for the Microsoft App Certification Lab via the supplier XXXX  are being shortchanged as far as the implementation of the PTO requirement is concerned.
From what I have heard they been told (nothing written) that they would be able to start accruing some PTO in six months, in October 2016.
If that is the case, I think XXXX  is in breach of Microsoft requirement that should start to be implemented at the latest on April 1s as the deadline announced by Brad Smith on March 26 2015 was one year.
I am not sure our colleagues know about you nor would dare complain but I do because if what they say is true they are treated unfairly and they would be deprived of 6 months of PTO they should start accruing right away.
Thank you for your concern,
Philippe Boucher

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Microsoft and temps in ... 1997

From the Los Angeles Times of December 9, 1997, this article by Leslie Helm. Are things that different today?

How Experis/Manpower implements Microsoft's PTO requirement

Read below how Experis (Manpower) is going to start implementing on April 1st 2016 the Microsoft's requirement that was announced on March 26, 2015. Notice that the accruing will also only start at this date: you worked years for Experis, that will not count for anything. As for the public holidays Experis used to pay? They are now gone. You'll have to satisfy yourself with the 15 days of PTO. As for Manpower:  "In 2015, ManpowerGroup was named one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the fifth consecutive year and one of Fortune's Most Admired Companies, confirming our position as the most trusted and admired brand in the industry. See how ManpowerGroup makes powering the world of work humanly possible:": Most ethical, most admired, most trusted... indeed.

Subject: Experis Benefits update beginning April 1, 2016. Please read.
Experis has enriched your benefits plan for 2016 to become effective April 1, 2016.  These changes were announced by the Experis Corporate benefits team via email to your personal account on Wednesday, March 16, 2016.  Please be sure to review that message for full details and any action items.
What does this mean for you?  Some changes, of course.
Effective April 1, 2016 you become eligible to accrue 15 days of PTO (paid time off) when working a full year.  The time accrued can be used as you need:  personal/vacation time, sick days, weather and client/Experis closures (holidays  or other.)  We are also reducing the premiums  for health benefits and offering a mid-year add event if you wish to add Experis Health benefits.  The new PTO accrual rate is 10 hours each month, updated on the final day of the month. I have attached a document with the instructions for using PTO and the new health premium information for your review. 
See the FAQ below to clarify the program.
Q: When is the new plan effective?
A: April 1, 2016.
Q: How many total days of PTO will accrue? 
A: 15 PTO days will accrue in a year.
Q: What is the monthly accrual amount?
A:  10 hours per month, posted on the last day of the month.
Q: When can I use PTO?
A: PTO can be used for time off work, related to being sick, taking personal time/vacation and client holiday or other closures. 
Q: How do I use PTO? 
A: Consultants enter the non-billable hours for PTO into their Peoplesoft timesheets using the PTB code. (See attached Word doc for instructions.)
Q: What happens to holiday pay?
A:  Experis Holiday pay will not automatically be paid out moving forward.  You may use accrued PTO if you wish to be paid for client holiday closures. 
Q: Was I paid for the New Year holiday? 
A: Yes, you were automatically paid the New Year holiday if you were active at that time.  New Year’s was the last Experis holiday to be paid automatically for our Microsoft consultants.
Q: Am I allowed to use PTO before I accrue it (go into a negative balance?)
A: No, you are to use the available PTO balance already accrued in your monthly bank.
Q: Can I carry over my accrual balance from year to year?
A:  Yes
Q: Is there a maximum amount where PTO will stop accruing? 
A: Yes.  Monthly accruals will stop once the 120 hour maximum is reached.  You will not accrue any more PTO until the bank is reduced from 120 hours.
Q: Will unused PTO amounts be paid out at the time of termination?
A: Yes, any remaining balance in your PTO bank will be paid out at the time of termination.
Q: My end date is scheduled mid- month.  Do I still get the full 10 hour monthly accrual?
A: No, but you will get a pro-rated PTO credit.  Same answer for any new hires in a month....

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Melinda Gates expresses (once again) her support for paid parental leave: will it translate into a change of policy to require Microsoft's suppliers to provide paid parental leave?

In the 2016 Gates Foundation annual letter co-written by Bill and Melissa she states: "studies show that when fathers are able to take time off from paid work when their children are born, they spend more time with their kids and doing other kinds of housework for years to come. As a result, they form a stronger bond with their partners and children. That’s one reason why I think access to paid family and medical leave is so important for families."
It's too bad that despite Melissa's concern, a concern we assume is shared by Bill, Microsoft has done nothing (yet?) to make sure its suppliers provide paid parental leave to their employees. Last year Brad Smith announced an 'at least 15 days of paid time off policy". This is an improvement from not one day but this policy does not take into account the needs of new parents as there is no provision for paid parental leave!!! Bill could do the right thing and convince Microsoft to require a paid parental leave policy for their suppliers employees. Another improvement in terms of paid family leave would be to require the suppliers to offer the same paid public holidays leave as Microsoft does. That would bring 12 additional paid days to the people working for Microsoft who need it the most (as they are usually much less paid). That would be practicing what they preach

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Comparing paid parental leave at Microsoft and Lionbridge: 20 weeks vs zero or 140 days vs zero

Screen shot 2016-01-23 at 4.51.55 PM
Watch this video produced by the Department of Labor that compares the paid maternity leave in the US and in Germany. Then replace the US by Lionbridge and Germany by Microsoft. In fact the difference is even greater between Lionbridge and Microsoft since Microsoft increased its paid maternity leave to 20 weeks (12 weeks for the fathers) while Lionbridge stayed where it was: at 0 day. How long can Microsoft tolerates such a shameful gap that is contrary to its proclaimed commitment to human rights?

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day @ Microsoft: Help end paid leave discrimination

2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day @ Microsoft: Help end paid leave discrimination

For 29 years Microsoft did not celebrate MLK .JR Day as a paid holiday. Then on August 5 2015, Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources announced Microsoft was adding MLK Day to its list of paid holidays. That would allow the employees to 'take time to recharge and invest in ways that are meaningful to them'.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Microsoft's Temporary Workers 3 wishes for 2016

There are thousands of people employed by Microsoft via vendors (Microsoft has not divulged the exact number). Many of them are classified as 'temporary' although their initial contract can be extended for years. Vendors use the temporary (mis)classification as a way to deny basic benefits like any sort of paid leave. On March 26 2015, Microsoft announced it cared for the health and wellness of those workers and would therefore, within the next nine months, require  vendors to provide them with 'at least 15 days of paid time off per year'. 
How has this policy change be implemented, how many vendors and employees are concerned, how do they feel about it, are questions that remain unanswered. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Unpaid public holidays and no paid parental leave: Microsoft and Lionbridge are Scrooge like companies

ScroogeIn 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 tis 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...

Friday, December 11, 2015

How Microsoft does not implement its proclaimed commitment to respect all the human rights in the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It's December 10 again, Human Rights Day again and this year Microsoft is still in violation of its commitment stated as follows:

"Since endorsing the UN Global Compact in 2006, Microsoft has had a formal commitment to respecting all of the human rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. "
This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966. Let us look at 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 "
 It is clear that paid leave should include periodic vacation AND the payment of the public holidays. When they announced their new requirement of 'at least 15 days of paid time off', Microsoft ignored the specific requirement by the UN texts that public holidays be paid, on top of the basic paid vacation. Requiring only 15 days of paid time off, without adding to this mandate the payment of the public holidays deprives full time supplier's employees of any payment when Microsoft closes its offices for ten public holidays during the year.
This distinction is clearly confirmed in the 1970 Convention on paid holidays: see article 3.3 and article 6.1
Ten unpaid public holidays represent millions of dollars that are not paid to thousands of Microsoft's suppliers employees, mostly employees that are paid the less. How long will it take for Microsoft to respect its commitment?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lionbridge attracts hedge fund billionaire Lee Cooperman

Cooperman's arrival in Lionbridge capital ($23 million, a 7% stake) apparently brought changes in the financial management with the departure of the CFO. Read the article in the Boston Business Journal of November 9. Cooperman worked for years at Goldman Sachs then created his own hedge fund, Omega Advisers whose performance has not been so great lately. He also accused President Obama of promoting class warfare in an open letter (November 28, 2011). While Lionbridge announced a $50 million share repurchase program, they could not find one cent to increase Tier1 pay, nor provide paid holidays or parental leave for people who have worked in the lab for years but are still misclassified as 'temporary' workers. As for the 15 days of PTO, they have constantly repeated it was only because Microsoft required it that they offered it. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Thanksgiving at Microsoft: the stinging bitterness of an unpaid holiday

I have been working full time as a tester/reviewer in the Windows App Certification Center since January 2012. Thanksgiving 2015 is coming. Microsoft gives two paid holidays to its ‘direct employees’ for Thanksgiving but we are employed via a supplier (Lionbridge Technologies) that does not offer any paid holiday.
In my case, this lack of paid holidays has saved Microsoft and Lionbridge a total of more than $7K during the last four years. Meanwhile my co-workers and I keep struggling from paycheck to paycheck and many are going to choose to come to the office the day after Thanksgiving not to lose another payday. Of course this Friday will not be paid overtime, just the regular $17 to $22 per hour, the same unchanged rates than 4 years ago.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Employees refuse Lionbridge Technologies minimal offer

25 Tier1s (on 40) voted. 20 voted NO and 5 voted YES.
There is a clear majority of Tier1s who refused Lionbridge minimal proposal. 
This vote sends a message to Lionbridge and Microsoft. They have to offer better conditions: significant raises after 3 + years of full time work without any raise with a bottom rate at $17 per hour, better benefits like paid holidays, paid parental leave, immediate accruing of paid time off taking in consideration the time already spent: immediate 15 days of PTO for people who have worked full time for more than a year. Microsoft and Lionbridge financial results are such they can easily provide better compensation and benefits.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lionbridge final tentative agreement: why we dislike it

Go here to see Lionbridge Tentative Final Agreement. 
Why should Tier 1 employees dislike it to the point they could refuse to ratify it? Read below for our analysis.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Is Microsoft a joint employer? TWA files a charge with the National Labor Relations Board

Temporary Workers of America is a small independent union born on September 11, 2014 to represent 40 or so employees working for Microsoft via a supplier, Lionbridge Technologies. The union was created because of the accumulated frustration of years without any paid leave nor pay increase. 
On March 26, 2015 Microsoft announced it would require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees but nothing was set aside specifically for paid parental leave and no paid holidays were mentioned.
From the very start we thought the requirement was too weak and we were concerned about its implementation.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The trend toward 16 weeks of paid parental/family leave

To complement the previous post here is a link to an article published October 8 in the Washington Post by Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University: Why 16 week paid parental leave policies are revolutionary for US workers.

Could melinda Gates help us obtain paid parental leave and paid public holidays?

Parental Leave Isn't Just About Parents: Why It Makes a Difference to Our Kids' Health
Let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
By Melinda Gates
This post first appeared at We could not find the exact date and it apparently did not elicit any comment. It was then reproduced on August 21, on The Huffington Post (72 comments). We discovered it because it was referenced on October 7 by Emily Peck again in The Huffington Post in a post where she explained how Melinda Gates is taking her own advice as the Gates Foundation announced it was now offering to its employees up to one year of paid parental leave.
The question for us: is there any chance that Melinda can convince Microsoft to require that its supplier Lionbridge Technologies provide "some parental leave" instead of nothing. What does she think the parental/family leave standard should be for Microsoft's suppliers?

The news that Netflix and Microsoft will strengthen their parental leave policies was welcomed by parents across the country, including me. These announcements should put pressure on every company, in every industry, to design and implement similar policies, setting a new standard for family leave.
However, there's more to this story than we are seeing in the headlines. Yes, the new policies will help tech companies retain highly skilled employees in a competitive job market, and that's an important priority for Netflix, Microsoft, and companies like them. But let's not forget what parental leave is really about: healthier babies, parents who are able to thrive professionally, and strong and resilient families.
I saw only limited coverage--such as this article--that focused on how the new policies will help parents and babies. We can debate about how leave should be structured to maximize its impact, but what's not in question is that when mothers and fathers get paid leave, they benefit, and so do their children.
Paid leave has been linked to higher birth weights and lower rates of infant mortality. Mothers who get paid leave breastfeed more and for longer, which is one of the best ways to protect the health of a newborn. This is to say nothing of the long-term emotional health of both parents and children who are able to form a strong attachment from birth.
The benefits extend beyond newborn health: When fathers take leave, they participate more in early child rearing, and that level of engagement continues after the leave ends. The evidence also shows that mothers who take leave are more likely to get raises in the year following their leave--54 percent more likely.
Netflix and Microsoft made these changes because parental leave is a benefit their employees really want. Parents know intuitively that spending more time with each other and with their newborn is the best thing for their family.
I hope that we see more companies improve their parental leave policies. If that's how businesses start competing for the best employees, society will benefit greatly. When all Americans have the ability to stay home with their new babies without incurring financial hardships or professional disadvantages, our country will be healthier, happier, and more productive. It's a goal we should all be working towards, for the health of our children.
Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

Sign this petition on

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

To: Microsoft

Microsoft: Stop paid leave discrimination

Campaign created by Philippe Boucher

Extend paid holidays and paid parental leave policies to all Microsoft's supplier's employees.
Why is this important?
On March 26, Brad Smith, Microsoft Executive Vice President for Legal Affairs, announced that Microsoft would now require its suppliers to provide 'at least 15 days of paid time off' to their employees, as "paid time off matters".
On August 5, Kathleen Hogan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, announced that Microsoft wanted to support its employees with benefits that matter the most to them: therefore Microsoft was adding two days to its present list of 8 paid holidays (MLK Day and President's Day) and extending its paid parental leave policy to 12 weeks. Unfortunately, those new benefits were not extended to the other half of Microsoft's workforce: the thousands of people who work full time for Microsoft via suppliers as many of the contractors don't provide any paid holidays nor any paid parental leave.
The direct, very negative consequences of this new policy will be a two day cut in pay, worth millions of dollars, for all the supplier's employees that are not being able to work on the two new unpaid holidays and the bitter confirmation that while Microsoft cares for its direct employees having parental leave they don't give a damn about the way their 2000 suppliers provide (or most often don't) any paid parental leave nor paid holidays. As the Department of Labor recently confirmed: the lack of paid leave disproportionally impacts low wage workers.
Were the savings made by Microsoft by adding two unpaid holidays planned to finance the new extended paid parental leave? Should the suppliers and their lowest paid workers take a pay cut to offset the cost of extended parental leave for the privileged better compensated employees?
While Brad Smith expressed in March a concern to reduce the inequality of treatment between employees, Kathleen Hogan's announcement is going in the exact opposite direction.
This shocking situation is made even more so by Microsoft's attempt to include Martin Luther King Jr within their corporate culture, as they finally add MLK Day to their list of paid holiday.
It took 30 years for Microsoft to recognize a holiday implemented as paid holiday since 1986 and the way it will work is going to penalize the lowest earners, the complete opposite of Martin Luther' King's vision!
At the end of her announcement, Kathleen Hogan writes: "We will continue to listen to employee feedback to establish benefits and build an overall employee experience that raises the bar in our industry, creates a more inclusive environment, and recognizes the importance of our people to the continued success of Microsoft."
Please sign this petition to let her know your concern about the lack of consideration Microsoft shows for all the people working via suppliers that are discriminated against and ask that Microsoft extend its new paid holidays and paid parental leave policies to all its suppliers employees, the other half of Microsoft

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lionbridge proposal at the July 17 collective bargaining meeting: 15 days of paid time off

Dear All,

As we expected from the Scrooge company that Lionbridge is, their paid time off proposal is the smallest possible to respect Microsoft's requirement: 15 days per year that can be used for any purpose. 

The eligibility would start once the contract with the union is signed and there is no retroactivity: one month after the signing you'll gain a bit more of one day of PTO. The people who have been there for years and the people who just arrived are treated the same. 
There is no extra paid time off for parental leave and the public holidays are taken out of the 15 bucket so that's already about half of the 15 days.
Lionbridge is therefore much less generous than WIPRO (for example). 
Microsoft has missed the opportunity to be really generous by adding the public holidays and a specific paid parental leave to the deal. 
They could still decide to do something if they get some bad feedback from the media comparing their meager offer to Facabook's ($4000 for each new baby).
It's also maintaining big inequalities among suppliers and with Microsoft's direct employees.
Let us know how you feel and if you want the union to sign asap or not.
Have a good week-end.