Skip to main content
Skip global navigation and go to main content

Another state jumps on the paid sick leave band wagon

Eight states, District of Columbia have adopted similar laws

Posted October 19, 2017

Effective July 1, 2018, Rhode Island will become the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to pass paid sick leave legislation. The states that have passed comparable laws are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Arizona
  • Washington

Many employees in Rhode Island will be entitled to paid sick leave under the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, which was signed into law in September 2017.

Employers are covered by the law if they have 18 or more employees. This includes anyone suffered or permitted to work. This does not, however, include independent contractors, subcontractors, work-study participants, apprentices, and interns.

To be eligible for paid sick leave, the individual must be an employee. Paid leave may be taken after a 90-day waiting period. Employees begin to accrue the leave upon hire, or when the law becomes effective July 1, 2018, (whichever is later). Employees accrue one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked.

If you are a Rhode Island employer and would rather not worry about accruals, you may provide lump sums of paid leave. For employees working an average of:

  • 37.5 – 40 hours per week, 8 hours of leave per month for five months
  • 30 hours per week, five hours per month for eight months
  • 24 hours per week, four hours per month for 10 months
  • 20 hours per week, four hours per month for 10 months
  • 16 hours per week, three hours per month for 10 months
  • 10 hours per week, two hours per month for 10 months
  • Five hours per week, one hour per month for 10 months

Exempt employees are assumed to work 40 hours per week.

Temp employees may take leave after a 180-day waiting period, and seasonal employees may take leave after a 150-day waiting period.

Employees may take 24 hours of paid leave in 2018, 32 hours in 2019, and 40 hours thereafter.

Employees may take the new sick leave for the following reasons:

  • The employee’s condition or need for diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care
  • Care of a family member’s need for diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care
  • Public health emergency
    • Closure of the business due to a public health emergency
    • Closure of an employee’s child care place due to a public health emergency
    • Employee or family member’s quarantine for exposure to communicable disease (need not have actually contracted the disease)
  • When the employee or a family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Since it is not specifically prohibited or allowed, it is assumed that if the reason qualifies and the employee is otherwise eligible, the leave would run concurrent with federal FMLA.

You may not take an adverse action against an employee because the employee used the leave.

Employees may request leave verbally. You may require employees to provide advance notice when the leave is foreseeable. When leave is not foreseeable, you may require notice as long as you have a written policy containing procedures for providing notice.

If an employee takes more than three consecutive days of leave, you may require reasonable documentation that the leave was used for a qualifying reason, as long as you have notified the employee in writing of this requirement before leave began.

This article was written by Darlene Clabault of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

J. J. Keller's FREE HRClicks™ email newsletter brings quick-read human resources-related news right to your email inbox.

Sign up to receive HRClicks™.