Rhode Island Sick Leave Law

On July 1, 2018, Rhode Island joined seven other states when the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act ("Act") went into effect. The Act, signed into law last September by Governor Gina Raimondo, requires employers with 18 or more employees to provide paid sick leave and employers with 17 or less employees to provide unpaid sick leave. The total number of sick leave hours a full-time employee can earn increases every year. For the remainder of 2018, the Act allows full-time employees to earn up to twenty-four (24) hours of sick leave, but in 2019 employees can earn up to thirty-two (32) hours and in 2020 up to forty (40) hours.

On July 1, 2018, Rhode Island joined seven other states when the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act ("Act") went into effect. The Act, signed into law last September by Governor Gina Raimondo, requires employers with 18 or more employees to provide paid sick leave and employers with 17 or less employees to provide unpaid sick leave. The total number of sick leave hours a full-time employee can earn increases every year. For the remainder of 2018, the Act allows full-time employees to earn up to twenty-four (24) hours of sick leave, but in 2019 employees can earn up to thirty-two (32) hours and in 2020 up to forty (40) hours.

What is the purpose of the Act?

According to Rhode Island General Laws Chapter 57 ยง 28-57-2, the legislative purpose of the Act is to ensure that employees in Rhode Island can address their own health and safety needs, as well as the health and safety needs of their family members. Employees can only use their sick leave for the following reasons:

  1. the employee's own health condition;
  2. to care for certain family members with a health condition;
  3. if the employee's place of business or employee's child's school closes due to a public health emergency; or
  4. if the employee or family member is dealing with domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Notice and Proof

When employees want to use their sick leave they have to give their employer at least 24-hours notice. However, when an absence is unforeseen, notice must be provided as soon as it is reasonable and in accordance with the employer's policies. In addition, in limited circumstances, when the employee returns to work, the employer can only ask for documentation or proof of the employee's stated reason for using their sick leave. For example, employers are not allowed to ask for information pertaining to the employee's illness or domestic violence. If the employee misses more than 3 consecutive workdays, the employer can ask for a doctor's note.

Therefore, unless an employer already has a sick leave policy, under Rhode Island law, an employer is now required to offer employees sick leave time of up to 24-hours.

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