Noodles & Company has joined other leading restaurant brands such as McDonald’s who are offering emergency sick leave for any quarantined worker employed at corporate-owned restaurants.
The stop gap policy, made in response to coronavirus, was needed as the fast-casual chain does not currently offer paid sick leave for hourly workers at its 389 corporate-owned stores.
Noodles, known for offering a wide variety of benefits for employees, said it is actively working “on a long-term paid sick leave policy for hourly team members.”
Until that happens, the company enacted on Thursday an emergency sick leave plan similar to other plans announced by industry giants McDonald’s and Walmart. The emergency paid sick leave policy applies to company employees who are unable to work if they are forced to quarantine or if they are tested positive for COVID-19. The new policy now covers 7,000 team members who don't get sick time. (Note: Noodles said about 18-28% of hourly restaurant workers at company stores do get sick pay, as required by local jurisdictions.)
“Noodles will pay the team member the average of their weekly pay based on total hours worked over the past eight weeks for a maximum of two weeks,” the company said in a statement.
Like other restaurants, Noodles said it encourages team members to stay at home if they feel sick. Managers will have the discretion to send people home who show “observable symptoms.”
If COVID-19 test results are negative, employees can provide test results and receive pay for any missed shifts, the company said. The amount is capped at five scheduled missed shifts.
Noodles said salaried team members such as general managers receive 10 to 15 days of paid time off a year, plus an additional five days of health leave. Corporate team members receive unlimited flexible time off.
“We are continuously monitoring our policies to ensure we are providing the resources and flexibility our team members need at this time,” the company said.
Lack of paid sick leave in the hospitality industry has resurfaced as an issue among hourly workers as the coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S. Roughly 58% of service workers have access to paid sick leave, according to the Labor Department. It's unclear what the percentage is in the restaurant industry.
According to Chain Restaurant Total Rewards, 29, or 35%, of 83 food service organizations reported giving sick leave to hourly, full-time crew members. That's according to a survey from 2019, said Amy Cohen, past president of the association, which is dedicated to strengthening benefits in chain restaurants. She's the director of Noodles' Total Rewards program.
The chain is known for its Life@Noodles initiative, a program aimed at making Noodles the best place to work in the industry.
Other benefits include paid paternity leave, a “phase-out, phase-in” maternity leave program, student-loan debt assistance of $1,000 per year to general managers, breast milk shipment payment during business travel, flexible time off for corporate team members and adoption assistance of $10,000 (limited to assistant general managers and above who have worked a minimum of 12 consecutive months).
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Update: This story was edited to include more details about Noodles' sick pay policies.