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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photo: Microsoft

In a move that could prompt more companies to offer paid parental leave, Microsoft is announcing today that it will require all of its U.S.-based suppliers and vendors with more than 50 employees to offer such benefits.

Why it matters: Many leading companies offer paid leave, but others need a push. History shows that when progressive companies require benefits or policies from their suppliers, it can help increase adoption. Microsoft's move alone will mean many thousands of new workers getting paid parental leave, as the company has more than 1,000 partners in the U.S.

Some states already have laws offering or mandating paid parental leave, including California. Microsoft's home state of Washington has also enacted paid parental leave that will go into effect in 2020.

"As we looked at this legislation, however, we realized that while it will benefit the employees of our suppliers in Washington state, it will leave thousands of valued contributors outside of Washington behind," Microsoft general counsel Dev Stahlkopf said in a blog post. "So, we made a decision to apply Washington’s parental leave requirement more broadly, and not to wait until 2020 to begin implementation."

What they're saying: Activists praised the move, with the National Partnership for Women & Families VP Vicki Shabo calling it bold and impressive. "It showcases the ripple effects that state-level public policy changes — like Washington state's paid family and medical leave program adopted last year — can have in changing private sector practice and behavior," she said.

History lesson: It's not the first time Microsoft has required suppliers to offer specific benefits. Three years ago the company insisted that its partners offer full-time workers at least 15 days of paid time off each year.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
28 mins ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

29 mins ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hopping the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Healthcare workers getting COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 16, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

All 50 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have made U.S. adults over the age of 16 eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, meeting President Biden's April 19 deadline.

Why it matters: The landmark speaks to the increased pace of the national vaccination campaign, but will increase pressure on the federal government, states and pharmaceutical companies to provide adequate vaccine supply and logistics.

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