As of July 1, 2018, Rhode Island employers with at least 18 employees will be eligible to take up to three days of paid Sick-and-Safe Leave under new legislation signed in September. The number of days will increase from three to four in 2019, and to five days in 2020. Employers with less than 18 employees are not required to participate in the Paid Sick-and-Safe Leave plan.
Paid time may be used:
- to care for an employee’s health,
- to care for a family member’s health,
- because the employee’s workplace or the employee’s child’s school is closed for a health emergency,
- to deal with issues of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
The paid time off should accrue at one hour for every 35 hours worked. Another option is for employers to offer the time as a lump sum to employees on January 1. Carry over of unused hours into the next year is allowed, but any unused hours are not required to be paid out at termination. Employers may impose a 90 day waiting period before new employees can use the available hours, with a 150 day waiting period permissible for seasonal employees and a 180 day waiting period for temporary employees.
When absences are foreseeable, employees must give advance notice to the employers so as not to disrupt work schedules, and employers may request certain documentation for absences of three or more consecutive sick days. Employers can be subject to fines and penalties for violating the statute.