In brief: The Covid-19 crisis has been a challenging time for everyone. As such, several tech giants have gifted their employees a pandemic bonus. One of these is Microsoft, which is handing workers $1,500 "in recognition of the unique and challenging fiscal year that Microsoft just completed."

In an internal memo seen by The Verge, Microsoft's chief people officer, Kathleen Hogan, announced that all staff below the level of vice president that started on or before March 31st, 2021, will be eligible for the bonus. That includes part-time workers and those on hourly rates in both the US and internationally who are eligible.

"As a symbol of our appreciation for coming together as One Microsoft during a uniquely challenging year, we are proud to recognize our employees with a one-time monetary gift," a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET.

Despite Microsoft owning LinkedIn, GitHub, and ZeniMax, employees at those companies are not eligible for the bonus. With 175,508 workers worldwide, the gifts are expected to cost the Windows maker around $200 million. That's a lot of money but represents just two days' worth of profit for Microsoft, which last month became only the second US public company to hit a $2 trillion market value, joining Apple in a very exclusive club.

Microsoft isn't the only firm to hand out a pandemic-related bonus. Facebook gave its staff $1,000 cash in March 2020 to help during the coronavirus outbreak; Amazon's frontline workers received a $300 holiday bonus; UK telecoms company BT is gifting $2,000 to its 60,000 employees; and Twitter said it would reimburse staff for the equipment they purchased to work from home, as well extra day care fees paid by those with children.

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