Noo­dles & Com­pany to of­fer rare phase-out, phase-in ma­ter­nity pro­gram

New moms at the chain can work an 80% sched­ule at 100% pay for four weeks be­fore and af­ter ma­ter­nity leave, in ad­di­tion to get­ting six weeks of paid leave.

Employee Benefit News - - Contents - BY KATHRYN MAYER

Ex­pec­tant and new moms at the chain can work an 80% sched­ule at 100% pay for four weeks be­fore and af­ter ma­ter­nity leave, in ad­di­tion to get­ting six weeks of paid leave.

Noo­dles & Com­pany will be­gin a rare leave ben­e­fit for new moms to help them ease in and out of ma­ter­nity leave.

Ef­fec­tive Jan. 1, qual­i­fy­ing ex­pect­ing and post­par­tum moth­ers who work at the pasta restau­rant chain will be able to phase-out and phase-in to their ma­ter­nity leave, work­ing an 80% sched­ule the four weeks be­fore and the four weeks af­ter ma­ter­nity leave while re­ceiv­ing 100% pay.

The new perk, meant to be a buf­fer to help with the tran­si­tion from preg­nancy to moth­er­hood, is in ad­di­tion to six weeks of paid ma­ter­nity leave. It’s avail­able to em­ploy­ees with the ti­tles of as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager and above, the com­pany says.

“Phas­ing out of ma­ter­nity leave al­lows moth­ers time to bal­ance their work and per­sonal lives and cre­ates a work en­vi­ron­ment where em­ploy­ees can thrive,” the com­pany says.

Paid leave is seen as a dif­fer­en­tia­tor among fast-ca­sual restau­rants and other re­tail­ers — data from the Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics in­di­cates that only 7% of re­tail work­ers had ac­cess to paid fam­ily leave in 2017 — but the phase-in, phase-out perk is unique to most em­ploy­ers. Noo­dles CEO Dave Boen­nighausen said the new of­fer­ing is unavail­able else­where in the fast-ca­sual in­dus­try.

“Our team mem­bers work hard for us, and we want to ex­press our grat­i­tude by of­fer­ing top-ofthe-line ben­e­fits that sup­port them in and out of the work­place,” he says. Noo­dles & Com­pany has just fewer than 10,000 em­ploy­ees across 475 lo­ca­tions around the coun­try.

The an­nounce­ment fur­ther ex­pands the Broom­field, Colorado-based chain’s new fam­ily-friendly ini­tia­tives. Back in March, Noo­dles added six full weeks of fully paid ma­ter­nity leave and two weeks of pa­ter­nity leave for el­i­gi­ble em­ploy­ees. It also added $10,000 in adop­tion as­sis­tance, flex­i­ble time off for cor­po­rate team mem­bers and a breast milk ship­ment ben­e­fit that re­im­burses em­ploy­ees who travel for work if they need to ship breast­milk.

Ear­lier this year, Amy Co­hen, di­rec­tor of ben­e­fits and com­pen­sa­tion at Noo­dles & Com­pany, told

EBN that the com­pany wants to of­fer a ben­e­fits pack­age that rec­og­nizes the im­por­tance of work­life bal­ance, es­pe­cially be­cause fe­male em­ploy­ees make up about 54% of the com­pany’s work­force.

“Hav­ing great ben­e­fits is not [about] the ben­e­fit it­self, but what it rep­re­sents about the com­pany,” Co­hen said. “When you have lo­ca­tions across the coun­try with 20 em­ploy­ees per lo­ca­tion, it’s re­ally hard to make sure our cul­ture is be­ing lived and em­bod­ied in all of our restau­rants.”

Fast food restau­rants and other re­tail­ers are be­gin­ning to beef up ben­e­fits — in­clud­ing leave of­fer­ings — in a tight la­bor mar­ket.

“Hav­ing great ben­e­fits is not [about] the ben­e­fit it­self, but what it rep­re­sents about the com­pany. When you have lo­ca­tions across the coun­try with 20 em­ploy­ees per lo­ca­tion, it’s re­ally hard to make sure our cul­ture is be­ing lived and em­bod­ied in all of our restau­rants.” Amy Co­hen, di­rec­tor of ben­e­fits and com­pen­sa­tion, Noo­dles & Com­pany

Ital­ian mar­ket­place and food hall chain Eataly also said last month it now of­fers eight weeks of paid parental leave to moth­ers and fa­thers fol­low­ing the birth or adop­tion of a child. Eataly’s pol­icy went into ef­fect in Jan­uary, and all em­ploy­ees who have been work­ing at the com­pany for at least a year are el­i­gi­ble, re­gard­less of hours worked per week. Em­ploy­ees will be paid 100% of their gross weekly wages for their first four weeks of leave and the sec­ond four weeks will be paid at 60% of their gross weekly wages.

Star­bucks an­nounced in Jan­uary that it would add six weeks of paid leave for hourly em­ploy­ees who be­come new dads. All ben­e­fits-el­i­gi­ble birth moth­ers who work at least 20 hours a week in store or non-store po­si­tions for Star­bucks are el­i­gi­ble for six weeks of leave at 100% of their av­er­age pay, and new adop­tive and foster par­ents are el­i­gi­ble for ben­e­fits as well.

Wal­mart also ex­panded its paid ma­ter­nity leave pol­icy in Jan­uary to give full-time hourly em­ploy­ees 10 weeks and ex­panded its parental leave to six weeks. Dol­lar Gen­eral in­tro­duced a new paid parental leave ben­e­fit in March, of­fer­ing two weeks of paid time off for all el­i­gi­ble full-time and part-time em­ploy­ees, and eight weeks of paid time off for birth moth­ers.

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