Microsoft’s new requirement of 15 days paid time off for eligible supplier employees is a relatively unusual move in the contingent workforce world. The software giant announced the move just last week in a blog post  by Brad Smith, general counsel and executive VP of legal and corporate affairs.
“We recognize that this approach will not reach all employees at all of our suppliers, but it will apply to a great many,” Smith wrote.
Microsoft is one of the first movers in mandating such a benefit for contingent workers, said Dawn McCartney, director, contingent workforce strategies and research at Staffing Industry Analysts.
“I think it will be interesting to see what happens,” McCartney said, adding organizations may have to get more creative in general when it comes to attracting and retaining talent — especially those searching for in-demand talent such as IT.
“A couple of years ago, employers got to sit in the driver’s seat,” she said. “Now these individuals are back in the driver’s seat, and they’ve got options.”
One nice touch with Microsoft’s approach: the company noted the move will likely add to its costs and that it will work with suppliers, McCartney said. However, there may be some salaried people working through staffing firms that already receive benefits.
According to Smith’s blog post, Microsoft will require suppliers to provide 10 days of paid vacation and five days of paid sick leave or 15 days of unrestricted paid time off. The policy will apply to suppliers with 50 or more employees in the US, and will apply to their US employees who worked for them for more than nine months, or 1,500 hours, who perform substantial work for Microsoft.
The company intends to work with suppliers to make this change over the next 12 months, but Smith acknowledged this may result in higher costs. “We appreciate that this may ultimately result in increased costs for Microsoft, and we’ll put a process in place for addressing these issues with our suppliers,” he wrote.
Many suppliers already offer strong benefits packages, but company does not have data on how many do or don’t provide paid time off, according to the post.
At least one group of temporary workers  at Microsoft had pushed for such a change, and formed a union called the Temporary Workers of America. But the group is taking a wait-and-see approach  until the staffing suppliers respond.
Separately last July, Microsoft imposed a service-length restriction  of 18 months on those who do work for the company through vendors or temp agencies.