State Law > Rhode Island > Rhode Island Family and Medical Leave Law

Rhode Island Family and Medical Leave Law

 

Rhode Island's law regarding family and medical leave is located in Title 28, Chapter 48 and 57 of the General Laws of Rhode Island.  The law is extensive and select sections of the law are below.

  • 28-48-1 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Definitions.
  • 28-48-2 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Parental leave and family leave requirements.
  • 28-48-3 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Employment and health benefits protection.
  • 28-48-4. Employment benefits.
  • 28-48-5 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Prohibited acts.
  • 28-48-8 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Civil penalty for violations.
  • 28-48-10 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Notice.
  • 28-48-11 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Use of sick leave for adoptive parents.
  • 28-48-12 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–School involvement leave.

Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act

  • 28-57-2 Legislative purpose
  • 28-57-4 Exemptions
  • 28-57-5 Accrual of paid sick and safe leave time
  • 28-57-6 Use of paid sick and safe leave time
  • 28-57-7 Family child care providers
  • 28-57-8 Uniformity
  • 28-57-10 Enforcement
  • 28-57-12 Greater sick and safe leave policies
  • 28-57-14 Allowable substitution of employers' paid sick and safe leave time


28-48-1 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Director" means the director of the department of labor and training.

(2) "Employee" means any full-time employee who works an average of thirty or more hours per week.

(3) "Employer" means and includes:

(i) Any person, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or other business entity that employs fifty (50) or more employees,

(ii) The state of Rhode Island, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and any state department or agency that employs any employees,

(iii) Any city or town or municipal agency that employs thirty (30) or more employees, and

(iv) Any person who acts directly or indirectly in the interest of any employer.

(4) "Family leave" means leave by reason of the serious illness of a family member.

(5) "Family member" means a parent, spouse, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, or the employee himself or herself.

(6) "Parental leave" means leave by reason of the birth of a child of an employee or the placement of a child sixteen (16) years of age or less with an employee in connection with the adoption of the child by the employee.

(7) "Serious illness" means a disabling physical or mental illness, injury, impairment, or condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, a nursing home, or a hospice, or outpatient care requiring continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

28-48-2 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Parental leave and family leave requirements.

(a) Every employee who has been employed by the same employer for twelve (12) consecutive months is entitled, upon advance notice to his or her employer, to thirteen (13) consecutive work weeks of parental leave or family leave in any two (2) calendar years. The employee shall give at least thirty (30) days notice of the intended date upon which parental leave or family leave shall commence and terminate, unless prevented by medical emergency from giving the notice. The director shall promulgate regulations governing the form and content of the employee's notice to the employer.

(b) Parental leave or family leave granted pursuant to this chapter may consist of unpaid leave. If an employer provides paid parental leave or family leave for fewer than thirteen (13) weeks, the additional weeks of leave added to attain the total of thirteen (13) weeks required by subsection (a) may be unpaid.

(c) The employer may request that the employee provide the employer with written certification from a physician caring for the person who is the reason for the employee's leave, which certification shall specify the probable duration of the employee's leave.

28-48-3 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Employment and health benefits protection.

(a) Every employee who exercises his or her right to parental leave or family leave under this chapter, upon the expiration of that leave, is entitled to be restored by the employer to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment, including fringe benefits and service credits that the employee had been entitled to at the commencement of leave.

(b) During any parental leave or family leave taken pursuant to this chapter the employer shall maintain any existing health benefits of the employee in force for the duration of the leave as if the employee had continued in employment continuously from the date he or she commenced the leave until the date he or she returns to employment pursuant to subsection (a).

(c) Prior to commencement of parental leave or family leave, the employee shall pay to the employer a sum equal to the premium required to maintain the employee's health benefits in force during the period of parental leave. The employer shall return the payment to the employee within ten (10) days following the employee's return to employment.

28-48-4. Employment benefits.

(a) The taking of parental leave or family leave pursuant to this chapter shall not result in the loss of any benefit accrued before the date on which the leave commenced.

(b) Except as provided in Sec. 28-48-3(b), nothing in this chapter shall be construed to entitle any employee who takes parental leave or family leave pursuant to this chapter to any benefit other than benefits to which the employee would have been entitled had he or she not taken the leave.

(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect an employer's obligation to comply with any collective bargaining agreement or employment benefit plan that provides greater parental leave or family leave rights to employees than the rights provided under this chapter.

(d) The parental leave and family leave rights mandated by this chapter shall not be diminished by any collective bargaining agreement or by any employment benefit plan.

(e) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to affect or diminish the contract rights or seniority status of any other employee of any employer covered by this chapter.

28-48-5 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Prohibited acts.

(a) It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right provided by this chapter.

(b) It is unlawful for any employer to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee for exercising any right provided by this chapter.

(c) It is unlawful for any employer to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, discipline, or in any other manner discriminate against any employee for opposing any practice made unlawful by this title.

28-48-7 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Enforcement powers of the director.

If, after giving an employer written notice and an opportunity to be heard, the director finds that the employer has failed to comply with any provision of this chapter, the director may issue those orders that he or she deems necessary to protect the rights of any employee. The director shall promulgate those rules and regulations that are necessary and appropriate to carry out the provisions of this section.

28-48-8 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Civil penalty for violations.

Any employer who violates any provision of this chapter or of any order issued pursuant to Sec. 28-48-7 is subject to a civil penalty of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000). In the case of a continuing violation, each day's continuance is deemed to be a separate and distinct offense.

28-48-10 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Notice.

(a) Each employer shall post and keep posted, in conspicuous places upon its premises where notices to employees and applicants for employment are customarily posted, a notice, to be approved by the agency, setting forth excerpts from, or summaries of, the pertinent provisions of this chapter and information pertaining to the filing of a charge.

(b) Any employer that willfully violates this section shall be assessed a civil money penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each separate offense.

28-48-11 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–Use of sick leave for adoptive parents.

Any employer who allows sick time or sick leave of an employee to be utilized after the birth of a child shall allow the same time to be used for the placement of a child sixteen (16) years of age or less with an employee in connection with the adoption of the child by the employee.

28-48-12 Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act–School involvement leave.

(a) An employee who has been employed by the same employer for twelve (12) consecutive months is entitled to a total of ten (10) hours of leave during any twelve (12) month period to attend school conferences or other school-related activities for a child of whom the employee is the parent, foster parent or guardian.

(b) The employee must provide a twenty-four (24) hours prior notice of the leave and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt the operations of the employer.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the leave be paid; except that an employee may substitute any accrued paid vacation leave or other appropriate paid leave for any part of the leave under this section.

 

Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act

28-57-2. Legislative purpose.
The purpose of this chapter is to ensure that employees in Rhode Island can address their own health and safety needs, as well as the health and safety needs of their family members, by requiring employers to allow employees to earn a minimum level of paid leave time, including time to care for their family members, and allow for ease and uniformity of administration for the business community in providing paid leave for their employees.

28-57-4. Exemptions.
(a) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to conflict with the provisions of the Food Code or the Rules and Regulations pertaining to Reporting Infectious, Environmental and Occupational Diseases.
(b) Any employer with a paid leave time off policy or paid sick and safe leave policy who makes available at least twenty-four (24) hours during calendar year 2018, thirty-two (32) hours during calendar year 2019 and forty (40) hours per calendar year thereafter of paid time off or paid sick and safe leave time to employees or any employer who offers unlimited paid time off or paid sick and safe time is exempt from §28-57-5(a), (b), (c) and (e). Employers that provide at least twenty-four (24) hours during calendar year 2018, thirty-two (32) hours during calendar year 2019, and forty (40) hours per calendar year thereafter of paid sick or safe leave or paid time off that can be used for the purposes consistent with this act at the beginning of
each benefit year do not need to track accrual, allow any carry-over, or payout.
(c) Any employer that employs less than eighteen (18) employees as defined in this act is exempt from §28-57-5; provided, however, that any such employer shall not take an adverse action against an employee of the employer solely based upon the employee’s use of up to twenty-four (24) hours during calendar year 2018, thirty-two (32) hours during calendar year 2019, and forty (40) hours per calendar year thereafter, subject to §28-57-6 and §28-57-10.
(d) Any employer is not required to provide any paid sick and/or safe leave time to any employees who are employed by a municipality or the state.
(e) Any employer in the construction industry, as classified as code under the North
American Industry Classification System, is not required to provide any paid sick and/or safe leave time to any employees who work under a collective bargaining agreement until July 1,
2018.
(f) Any employee licensed to practice nursing pursuant to chapter 34 of title 5 is not
subject to the provisions of this chapter if the employee:
(1) Is employed by a health care facility;
(2) Is under no obligation to work a regular schedule;
(3) Works only when he or she indicates that he or she is available to work and has no obligation to work when he or she does not indicate availability; and
(4) Receives higher pay than that paid to an employee of the same health care facility performing the same job on a regular schedule.

28-57-5. Accrual of paid sick and safe leave time.
(a) All employees employed by an employer of eighteen (18) or more employees in
Rhode Island shall accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick and safe leave time for every thirty five (35) hours worked up to a maximum of twenty-four (24) hours during the calendar year of 2018, thirty-two (32) hours during calendar year 2019 and up to a maximum of forty (40) hours per year thereafter, unless the employer chooses to provide a higher annual limit in both accrual and use. In determining the number of employees who are employed by an employer for compensation, all employees defined in §28-57-3(7) shall be counted.
(b) Employees who are exempt from the overtime requirements under 29 U.S.C.
§213(a)(1) of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§201 et seq., will be assumed to work forty (40) hours in each work week for purposes of paid sick and safe leave time accrual unless their normal work week is less than forty (40) hours, in which case paid sick and safe leave time accrues based upon that normal work week.
(c) Paid sick and safe leave time as provided in this chapter shall begin to accrue at the commencement of employment or pursuant to the law's effective date, whichever is later. An employer may provide all paid sick and safe leave time that an employee is expected to accrue in a year at the beginning of the year.
(d) An employer may require a waiting period for newly hired employees of up to ninety (90) days. During this waiting period, an employee shall accrue earned sick time pursuant to this section or the employer's policy, if exempt under § 28-57-4(b), but shall not be permitted to use the earned sick time until after he or she has completed the waiting period.
(e) Paid sick and safe leave time shall be carried over to the following calendar year;
however, an employee's use of paid sick and safe leave time provided under this chapter in each calendar year shall not exceed twenty-four (24) hours during calendar year 2018, and thirty-two (32) hours during calendar year 2019, and forty (40) hours per year thereafter. Alternatively, in lieu of carryover of unused earned paid sick and safe leave time from one year to the next, an employer may pay an employee for unused earned paid sick and safe leave time at the end of a year and provide the employee with an amount of paid sick and safe leave that meets or exceeds the requirements of this chapter that is available for the employee's immediate use at the beginning of the subsequent year.
(f) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as requiring financial or other
reimbursement to an employee from an employer upon the employee's termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment for accrued paid sick and safe leave time that has not been used.
(g) If an employee is transferred to a separate division, entity, or location within the
state, but remains employed by the same employer as defined in 29 CFR 791.2. of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§201 et seq., the employee is entitled to all paid sick and safe leave time accrued at the prior division, entity, or location and is entitled to use all paid sick and safe leave time as provided in this act. When there is a separation from employment and the employee is rehired within one hundred thirty-five (135) days of separation by the same employer, previously accrued paid sick and safe leave time that had not been used shall be reinstated. Further, the employee shall be entitled to use accrued paid sick and safe leave time and accrue additional sick and safe leave time at the re-commencement of employment.
(h) When a different employer succeeds or takes the place of an existing employer, all employees of the original employer who remain employed by the successor employer within the state are entitled to all earned paid sick and safe leave time they accrued when employed by the original employer, and are entitled to use earned paid sick and safe leave time previously accrued.
(i) At its discretion, an employer may loan sick and safe leave time to an employee in advance of accrual by such employee.
(j) Temporary employees shall be entitled to use accrued paid sick and safe leave time beginning on the one hundred eightieth (180) calendar day following commencement of their employment, unless otherwise permitted by the employer. On and after the one hundred eightieth (180) calendar day of employment, employees may use paid sick and safe leave time as it is accrued. During this waiting period, an employee shall accrue earned sick time pursuant to this chapter, but shall not be permitted to use the earned sick time until after he or she has completed the waiting period.
(k) Seasonal employees shall be entitled to use accrued paid sick and safe leave time beginning on the one hundred fiftieth (150) calendar day following commencement of their employment, unless otherwise permitted by the employer. On and after the one hundred fiftieth (150) calendar day of employment, employees may use paid and sick and safe leave time as it is accrued. During this waiting period, an employee shall accrue earned sick time pursuant to this chapter, but shall not be permitted to use the earned sick time until after he or she has completed the waiting period.

28-57-6. Use of paid sick and safe leave time.
(a) Paid sick and safe leave time shall be provided to an employee by an employer for:
(1) An employee's mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; an employee's need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; an employee's need for preventive medical care;
(2) Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs preventive medical care;
(3) Closure of the employee's place of business by order of a public official due to a
public health emergency or an employee's need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency, or care for oneself or a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the employee's or family member's presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of their exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease; or
(4) Time off needed when the employee or a member of the employee's family is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
(b) Paid sick and safe leave time shall be provided upon the request of an employee. Such request may be made orally, in writing, by electronic means, or by any other means acceptable to the employer. When possible, the request shall include the expected duration of the absence.
(c) When the use of paid sick and safe leave time is foreseeable, the employee shall
provide notice of the need for such time to the employer in advance of the use of the sick and safe leave time and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of sick and safe leave time in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.
(d) An employer that requires notice of the need to use earned paid sick and safe leave time where the need is not foreseeable shall provide a written policy that contains procedures for the employee to provide notice. An employer that has not provided to the employee a copy of its written policy for providing such notice shall not deny earned paid sick and safe leave time to the employee based on non-compliance with such a policy.
(e) Unless otherwise in conflict with state or federal law or regulations, an employee may decide how much sick time to use; provided, however, that an employer may set a minimum increment for the use of sick time, not to exceed four (4) hours per day, provided such minimum increment is reasonable under the circumstances.
(f) For paid sick and safe leave time of more than three (3) consecutive work days, an employer may require reasonable documentation that the paid sick and safe leave time has been used for a purpose covered by subsection (a) of this section if the employer has notified the employee in writing of this requirement in advance of the employee's use of paid sick and safe time. An employer may not require that the documentation explain the nature of the illness or the details of the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking unless required by existing government regulation or law. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to conflict with existing government regulation or law.
(1) An employer may require written documentation for an employee’s use of earned sick time that occurs within two (2) weeks prior to an employee's final scheduled day of work before termination of employment.
(2) Documentation signed by a health care professional indicating that paid sick leave time is necessary shall be considered reasonable documentation under subsection (a) of this section.
(3) One of the following, of the employee's choosing, shall be considered reasonable documentation of an absence under subsection (a)(4) of this section:
(i) An employee's written statement that the employee or the employee's family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and that the leave taken was for one of the purposes of §28-57-6(a)(4);
(ii) A police report indicating that the employee or employee's family member was a
victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
(iii) A court document indicating that the employee or employee's family member is
involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
(iv) A signed statement from a victim and witness advocate affirming that the employee or employee's family member is receiving services from a victim services organization or is involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
(g) An employer's requirements for verification may not result in an unreasonable burden or expense on the employee and may not exceed privacy or verification requirements otherwise established by law.
(h) Paid sick and safe leave cannot be used as an excuse to be late for work without an authorized purpose.
(i) If an employee is committing fraud or abuse by engaging in an activity that is not
consistent with allowable purposes for paid sick and safe leave in this section, an employer may discipline the employee, up to and including termination of employment for misuse of sick leave.
(j) If an employee is exhibiting a clear pattern of taking leave on days just before or after a weekend, vacation, or holiday, an employer may discipline the employee for misuse of paid sick and safe leave, unless the employee provides reasonable documentation that the paid sick and safe leave time has been used for a purpose covered by subsection (a) of this section.
(k) An employer may not require, as a condition of providing earned paid sick and safe time under this chapter, that the employee search for or find a replacement worker to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick and safe leave time. However, if an employee is absent from work for any reason listed in §28-57-6(a) and by mutual consent of the employer and the employee, the employee works an equivalent number of additional hours or shifts during the same or the next pay period as the hours or shifts not worked due to reasons listed in §28-57-6(a), an employee shall not be required to use accrued and earned paid or unpaid sick time for the
employee's absence during that time period, and the employer shall not be required to pay for sick time taken during the time period.

28-57-7. Family child care providers.
CCAP family child-care providers shall accrue and may use paid sick and safe leave in the same manner as do employees under this chapter. The implementation, but not the amount, of paid sick and safe leave for CCAP family child-care providers shall be a subject of negotiation with the director of the department of administration under §40-6.6-4. The department of human services shall promulgate any necessary regulations to implement the requirement of paid sick and safe leave for CCAP family child-care providers. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to make CCAP family child-care providers' employees of the state for any purpose, including for the purposes of eligibility for the state employee pension program or state employee health benefits.

28-57-8. Uniformity.

No municipality shall establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employer to provide benefits in excess of those required under this chapter, including paid sick and safe leave to its employees, other than the paid sick and safe leave requirements provided by this chapter, or to apply sick and safe leave policies to statutorily exempt employees and workers.

28-57-10. Enforcement.
(a) Enforcement and notice requirements pursuant to this chapter shall be in accordance with enforcement and notice requirements of chapter 12 of this title.
(b) Any employee or former employee aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be entitled to the same protections and relief as under chapters 12 and 14 of this title or act.
(c) An employer who violates this chapter shall be liable for a civil penalty in an amount not less than one hundred dollars ($100) for the first violation, and each subsequent violation shall be subject to the penalties under chapter 12 of this title.

28-57-12. Greater sick and safe leave policies.
(a) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed in a manner to discourage or prohibit an employer from the adoption of a paid sick and safe leave time policy that provides greater rights or benefits than those provided pursuant to this chapter.
(b) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as diminishing the obligation of an
employer to comply with any contract, collective bargaining agreement, employment benefit plan or other agreement that provides greater sick and safe leave time to an employee than required in this chapter.
(c) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as diminishing the rights of public
employees regarding paid sick and safe leave or use of sick and safe leave time as provided in the general laws.

28-57-14. Allowable substitution of employers' paid sick and safe leave time.
(a) Employers may have different paid leave policies for different groups of employees, provided that all policies meet the minimum requirements of this chapter.
(b) Employers that prefer not to track accrual of paid sick and safe leave time over the
course of the benefit year may also use the following schedules for providing lump sums of sick leave or paid time off to their employees. Employers using these schedules will be in compliance even if an employee's hours vary from week to week. For employees working an average of:
(1) Thirty-seven and one-half (37.5) to forty (40) hours per week, provide eight (8) hours per month for five (5) months;
(2) Thirty (30) hours per week, provide five (5) hours per month for eight (8) months
(3) Twenty-four (24) hours per week, provide four (4) hours per month for ten (10)
months;
(4) Twenty (20) hours per week, provide four (4) hours per month for nine (9) months;
(5) Sixteen (16) hours per week, provide three (3) hours per month for ten (10) months;
(6) Ten (10) hours per week, provide two (2) hours per month for ten (10) months;
(7) Five (5) hours per week, provide one hour per month for ten (10) months.
(c) In the case of an employer whose regular work day for full-time employees is less
than eight (8) hours per day, if the employer provides five (5) days of paid sick and safe time leave consisting of the number of hours per day that constitute that full-time employee's work day and provides them at the beginning of the year, the employer shall be in compliance with this subsection.
(d) Employers that provide forty (40) or more hours of paid time off or vacation to
employees that also may be used as paid sick and safe leave, consistent with this section, shall not be required to provide additional sick leave to employees who use all their time for other purposes and have need of paid sick and safe leave later in the year, provided that the employers' leave policies make clear that additional time will not be provided.

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