Phased Maternity Leave Enhances Parental Benefits



Noodles & Company, known for serving up fast, casual pasta dishes, is launching an innovative benefit that allows expectant and postpartum mothers to phase-out of work and then back in, while receiving full salary. Given the trend of U.S. companies expanding parental leave benefits, other employers could copy this approach to attract and retain talent, benefits advisors said.

Starting next year, eligible new mothers at Noodles, in addition to receiving six weeks of paid maternity leave, can work an 80 percent schedule during the four weeks before and the four weeks after maternity leave while receiving full pay. The benefit is available to assistant general managers and above who work full-time.

Eligible fathers and other nonbirth parents receive two weeks of paternity/bonding leave.

The company provides additional parental benefits for eligible employees such as reimbursement for breast milk shipments during business travel and adoption assistance of up to $10,000 per child.

Noodles & Company isn't the first employer to allow new mothers to reduce their workload before and after taking maternity leave. In May, national law firm Schiff Hardin announced a "ramp up/down policy" that reduces working  hours for expectant parents by 20 percent during the month before and after their parental leave, with no reduction in salary. The firm also provides a "mindful return" online course that helps parents successfully transition back to work after taking leave, and—like Noodles—a service that helps nursing mothers store and ship breast milk when they travel for work.

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