Microsoft grants staff 3 days' leave to 'visit and spend money' in fire-affected communities

Microsoft grants staff 3 days leave to ‘visit and spend money’ in fire-affected communities

Microsoft Australia hopes to contribute to the recovery of bushfire affected communities by allowing staff to use their three days’ volunteer leave to visit and invest in the impacted towns.

Managing director, Steven Worrall, said on LinkedIn that Microsoft employees can use their volunteer leave to “visit and spend some money in and around impacted communities”, in addition to volunteering their time in a traditional sense. Microsoft will also “start the clock again” on volunteer leave so that all permanent employees will have three days’ leave to use by the end of June.

“We are encouraging people to take a break and support local businesses to get back on their feet,” Worrall said. “Australia is full of amazing places. I hope we can all do our small bit to help as our country slowly rebuilds.”

A company spokesperson told Women’s Agenda that it is “really up to them [employees] how they use the time”.

“We just want to help support those communities get back on their feet,” she said.

A growing number of companies are looking at ways of offering support to bushfire affected communities, other than direct financial contributions.  Last week NAB announced it would give all its 30,000 permanent employees an additional day of leave to visit bushfire affected communities in 2020.

Unfortunately, bushfires and drought aren’t the only challenges impacting these businesses.  The Federal Government’s new blanket ban on in-bound Chinese tourists, because of the escalating coronavirus crisis, accounts for an estimated $1 billion in monthly lost tourism revenue alone. The bushfires, drought and now the coronavirus has been described as a “triple whammy” for struggling rural and regional businesses.

A fortnight ago the Federal Government announced a $76 million tourism recovery package. The package – which forms part of the Government’s $2 billion National Bushfire Relief Fund – aims to draw more tourists to bushfire affected areas.

Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison says the Morrison Government announcement will provide “much needed support for Australia’s tourism and hospitality industry and thousands of tourism businesses that underpin it”.

“Our incredible tourism businesses and operators in fire-affected regions are doing it tough right now and it is vital we encourage Australians and international tourists to visit these communities so they can thrive again,” she says.

Pictured Above: Jervis Bay on the South Coast of NSW. Photo courtesy of Shoalhaven City Council. Check out their new ‘Rejuvenate’ resource for up to date information for visitors. 

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