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Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted the pandemic we are now experiencing with uncanny accuracy in a talk in 2015.

Now, the software giant is helping employees cushion the blow of school disruptions due to COVID-19 with three months of paid parental leave.

Microsoft workers with children can select how and when to use the parental leave – be it a three-month block or just a few days per week –  said spokesperson for the tech firm. The programme is called ‘12-Week Paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leave’, it was reported in Business Insider.

The spokesperson added that the policy is intended to “give our employees greater flexibility and time off as they face extended school closures”.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools across the globe to close their doors. UNESCO has estimated that school closures in 188 countries are impacting more than 90% of the planet’s student population – totalling around 1.6 billion children and young adults.

Microsoft’s initiative is one of a number of measures tech firms are taking to adapt to lockdowns, as most of their workers are now working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Facebook announced last month that it would give US$1000 to all of its 45,000 full-time employees, and will continue to pay its contract workers in full despite reduced workloads. Twitter and Google have also committed to paying contractors.

However, Amazon was lambasted by John Oliver in his Last Week Tonight chat show last week for the tech company’s treatment of employees during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially workers at its warehouses and distribution centres.