RI Future: Rich people have paid sick days. Poor people do not.

By Douglas Hall PhD

Rhode Island’s House Committee on Labor is today considering H7633, An Act Relating To Labor And Labor Relations— Healthy And Safe Families And Workplaces Act, legislation that if passed would provide Rhode Island workers with earned paid sick days.

Among the basic provisions of this legislation are the following:

  • Annual accrual of 56 hours (equivalent to seven 8-hour work days) of earned sick leave.
  • Ability to make use of paid leave after 90 days.
  • Rollover of unused sick leave into new calendar year, with option to instead pay employees for unused time.
  • Protection of earned sick leave time in the event an employee is transferred to a different division of the same company, and in the event that “an employer succeeds or takes the place of an existing employer”.

Until national legislation is passed providing earned paid sick time, state and local provisions can provide this important family-friendly employment standard. As of March 2016, five states have passed earned paid sick time legislation, including three of our New England neighbors, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. As well, at least fifteen cities and counties have passed legislation providing earned paid sick leave, including San Francisco, Washington, DC, New York, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), and San Diego.