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Noodles beefs up its benefits package

Amid a worker shortage, the company is offering six weeks paid maternity leave and adoption assistance.

Noodles & Co. hopes paid maternity leave and adoption assistance will help it attract and retain better talent amid a restaurant industry worker shortage.

The 400-unit, Broomfield, Colo.-based fast-casual chain on Friday announced a new suite of benefits packages that include student loan assistance and even payment for breast milk shipments during business travel.

“We aspire to make Noodles the most enjoyable and rewarding place to work in the industry,” CEO Dave Boennighausen said in a statement. He noted that the benefits started on Jan. 1.

Those benefits include six weeks of paid maternity leave and expanded parental leave.

The company will also provide $10,000 in adoption assistance, and student loan debt assistance of $1,000 per year to general managers. Veterans will get paid time off on Veterans Day, and corporate workers will get flexible time off.

The benefits come as restaurants are struggling to find workers amid low unemployment and a yearslong industry hiring spree. Restaurants have added 250,000 jobs over the past year, according to federal data.

Rising labor expenses cost publicly traded chains as much as $250 million in lost profits last year.

Restaurant chains have been improving their benefits recently, as tax cuts helped profits and companies look to increase their competitiveness. Numerous restaurant companies have maternity leave, and a few have leave for fathers.

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