Microsoft is supporting a US tax bill which will deny at least 5,400 of its US staff employee benefits like health care, stock options, or paid holidays - according to Seattle law firm Bendich, Stobaugh and Strong.
The bill, HR 1891, has key support in Congress and could be enacted in October. David Stobaugh, whose firm represents those employees that could be impacted, noted that the bill is being promoted as a way to expand benefits to employees, but "in fact, the bill would accomplish the opposite result."
It would allow employers of all sizes to deny all benefits to their full-time, permanent employees by making 'payrolling' legal. Microsoft does this by employing the staff through a payrolling agency that reports that it is the employer, not Microsoft.
Both a federal court, the Court of Appeals (twice), and in January the Supreme Court, rejected Microsoft's arguments. The federal court is now determining Microsoft's obligations.
At the beginning of the month, Microsoft instructed these "PermaTemp" employees to take a month's unpaid holiday after every 12 months of work, in an attempt to circumvent the law. One such employee, who had worked for Microsoft since 1983, said he had four children, no paid sick leave and was unable to afford to take such a break.
Stobaugh said: "It is extremely odd that one of the world's richest companies headed by the world's richest man is unwilling to provide normal employee benefits for 30 per cent of the Microsoft workforce."
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