Paid Sick Leave

Starting July 1, 2018 Rhode Island's many full and part-time workers can start to accrue time off under the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act. Workers earn 1 hour of time for every 35 hours they work.

The maximum amount of time that can be accrued is:

  • 32 hours in calendar year 2019
  • 40 hours calendar year 2020 and thereafter

Workers can take time off when they are sick or to take care of a family member. Addressing needs as a result of domestic violence also qualifies.

Paid time workers in larger companies (18 or more employers) are entitled to paid time off. Unpaid time workers in smaller companies (less than 18 employees) are not entitled to paid time but the employer may not take adverse action against an employee for taking unpaid time off for sick or safe time and must allow employees to take leave, without fear of retribution.

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Employers can set a 90-day waiting period before newly hired employees can use leave. For seasonal workers, the waiting period can be 150 days of employment and for temporary employees the waiting period is 180 days.

Employees can carry over up to 24 hours in calendar year 2018 to the next 12-month period.

If an employer currently has a policy that grants employees paid time off in a manner consistent with the new requirements, it does not need to provide additional paid leave.

To learn more visit our Paid Sick Time Guide Page. The Rhode Island Department of Labor has created a factsheet and has an Extended Q and A section online that provides more information on paid/unpaid sick leave.

Why it's important:

  • Make a big difference for a lot of working families:  An additional 100,000 Rhode Island workers are now able to take paid sick days and every Rhode Island worker is now able to take sick time without fear of losing their jobs
  • Provide essential basic economic security: Without this protection an illness or an incident of domestic violence can cost working families a job or severely impact their ability to support themselves. No one should have to choose between taking care of their health and feeding their family.
  • Improve public health: Workers who lack paid sick days are more likely to report to work sick, which spreads disease. Food service, personal care, and childcare are industries where few workers have paid sick days.
  • Lower health care costs: Without time off to seek care, workers delay care and rely on emergency rooms raising the cost of healthcare for all of us.
  • Support victims escaping domestic violence: Without this protection, an already terrifying situation can easily become a financial disaster for a family.
  • Reduce employee turnover: Workers who have their protections stay in their jobs longer. This reduces the cost of hiring and training new workers and increases productivity.
  • Support business and economic growth: There is increasing body of evidence from the seven states, D.C. and dozens of cities that have implemented paid sick days that despite the fears of organized business groups paid sick days have almost no realized downside for businesses and in fact they see increase productivity.

Families are important

The normal family configuration has changed so we are excited that the law’s definition of what constitutes a family member includes a child, parent, spouse, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, sibling, care recipient, or member of the employee’s household. It provides a greater opportunity for people to be able to provide care for the people closest to them.

Paid Sick Leave vs. Paid Family Leave

The new paid sick leave policy differs from Rhode Island's paid family leave program, the Temporary Caregive Insurance Program (TCI). TCI provides up to four weeks of partial (about 60%) wage replacement to workers who need to take time from work to care for a seriously ill family member including a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law or grandparent or to bond with a newborn child, adopted child or foster child. TCI also protects the worker’s job and seniority while the worker is out on leave. 

Click here for a factsheet that explains the difference between both policies.

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