Are you expecting a new addition to the family? Congratulations! If you are employed outside the home, federal and state laws protect your job if you/your employer meet the eligibility qualifications or requirements.
Rhode Island's Parental and Family Medical Leave Act actually goes a bit further than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, neither of these laws guarantee paid leave. These laws are meant to protect your job rather than continued income.
Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act
Our state's law doesn't compel employers to provide paid leave when you take time off to give birth or to adopt a child under 17 years of age. However, if you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible to receive paid leave while you are off.
To qualify for available paid family leave, one of the following must be true.
- Your employer is a sole proprietor, a partnership, corporation or other entity with at least 50 employees.
- You work for the state.
- You are employed by a city, town or municipality with at least 30 employees.
- Your employer acts on the behalf of one of these businesses or government employers.
Your eligibility rests on job length and hours worked. To qualify you must meet the following criteria.
- You work full time, and
- You must have been working for this employer for at least 12 months in a row before you take leave, and
- You must have averaged at least 30 hours of work in each of those 12 weeks.
Rights and duties for unpaid family medical leave
To take advantage of the unpaid family leave benefit, you must fulfill some specific duties. And you have various rights under the RI law as well.
- Notice: You must inform your employer of the leave you intend to take at least 30 days before it starts.
- Length and Frequency: You can take up to 13 weeks in a row of parental leave during any two calendar years - federal FMLA provides 12 weeks.
- Paid and unpaid leave: Your employer may offer you paid parental leave for less than 13 weeks. In this case, you can still take the full 13 weeks of leave, but the balance will be unpaid.
Your employee rights are protected by both state and federal law, the intersection of which has nuances and can be confusing. Employers subject to these laws must observe them.
If your employer interferes with your right to take leave, fires you or retaliates against you in any other way, you should seek legal assistance.