Rhode Island Leave Laws

May 8th 2024

Leave laws in Rhode Island support employee well-being and productivity, which is why employees are granted time off for various reasons including illness, holidays, and jury duty. This article provides an overview of Rhode Island leave laws, explaining the two primary categories of leave: mandatory and non-mandatory. Each type of leave is governed by its own set of rules and conditions, subject to Rhode Island state and federal laws. 

This Article Covers

Rhode Island Required Leave
Rhode Island Non-Required Leave

Rhode Island Required Leave

Employers in Rhode Island are legally required to provide employees certain types of leave. The types of mandatory leave include:

1. Paid Sick and Safe Leave

  • Eligibility: In Rhode Island, all employers must provide sick leave
  • Duration: Employees accrue 1 hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Employees can use this leave for their own health needs such as illness, injuries, or medical appointments, or to assist a family member with similar issues. It can also be used for matters related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking affecting themselves or their household members.
  • Pay: Sick leave is paid for businesses with 18 or more employees, and unpaid for businesses with fewer than 18 employees.

2. Family and Medical Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees in Rhode Island are eligible for family and medical leave if they have worked for their employer for at least one year, have completed a minimum of 1,250 work hours over the past year, and work at a location where the employer has more than 50 employees.
  • Duration: Up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year, with an extension to 26 weeks to care for a service member with a serious health condition.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be used for personal or family illness, childbirth, care for a newborn, or adoption. It also covers care for mother-in-laws and father-in-laws, and up to 26 weeks to care for a spouse, parent, child, or next of kin who is a service member undergoing medical treatment.
  • Pay: The initial 12 weeks may be unpaid. The additional 14 weeks for caring for a service member are also unpaid.

3. Jury Duty Leave

  • Eligibility: In Rhode Island, if an employee is summoned for jury duty, their employer must offer them jury duty leave.
  • Duration: As long as required by the court for jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To attend court as a juror when officially summoned.
  • Pay: Employers are not required to compensate employees for the time spent on jury duty, nor can they force employees to use paid leave for this purpose.

4. Witness Leave

  • Eligibility: In Rhode Island, witness leave eligibility extends to any employee summoned to testify in court.
  • Duration: For the duration required by the court to testify.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To appear in court as a witness when legally required.
  • Pay: Rhode Island law does not mandate that employers pay employees during the time they serve as witnesses. Payment policies may be determined by the employer or covered under specific employment agreements.

5. School Leave

  • Eligibility: Eligibility for this leave generally includes parents or guardians of children enrolled in a Rhode Island school. However, employees must submit a request at least 24 hours in advance for approval.
  • Duration: Up to 10 hours in a 12-month period.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To attend school-related activities for their children. 
  • Pay: Employers can decide whether this leave time will be paid or unpaid.

 6. Crime Victim Leave

  • Eligibility: If an employee becomes a victim of a crime, employers with 50 or more employees must offer them crime victim leave. 
  • Duration: The duration required to attend court proceedings, seek legal counsel, or obtain necessary services related to the incident.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To address legal and personal matters resulting from being a victim of a crime, such as court appearances or counseling sessions.
  • Pay: This leave can be paid or unpaid.

7. Military Leave

  • Eligibility: Employees who serve in the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or state militia are covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which provides military leave to those fulfilling military obligations. 
  • Duration: The duration of the leave matches the length of the military duty, including any required training and deployment periods.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Employees may use this leave to fulfill military obligations, whether it’s training, deployment, or other duties as required by their service.
  • Pay: Upon returning to work, employees are entitled to the same salary and benefits as if they had continued working uninterrupted by military service, ensuring no loss in progression or advantages.

8. Family Military Leave

  • Eligibility: Under the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Act, employers must provide leave to employees whose spouse or child is called to military service for at least 30 days. Note that this only applies to employers with 15 or more employees. 
  • Duration: Up to 15 days for companies with 15 to 50 employees. For companies with more than 50 employees, the duration of leave is 30 days. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To manage affairs or cope during the family member’s military deployment.
  • Pay: This leave is unpaid regardless of the duration or size of the company.

9. Holiday Leave

  • Eligibility: All employees in Rhode Island are eligible for holiday leave.
  • Duration: Corresponds to the specific holiday (typically one full day). The list of legal holidays in the US can be viewed in the table below. 
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Employees can take leave if they work on Sundays or legal holidays. 
  • Pay: If an employee decides to work on Sundays or legal holidays in Rhode Island, they are entitled to 1.5 times their regular hourly rate. However, they have the right to turn down work on those days without any negative consequences.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

If you want to know more about the rights of employees in Rhode Island, you can read our guides on Your rights as a salaried employee in Rhode Island, and Your rights as an hourly employee in Rhode Island. You can also learn more about Rhode Island Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Rhode Island Non-Required Leave

In Rhode Island, certain types of leave are not mandatory, unless stated in the employment contract or company policies. Employers determine their own policies regarding these optional leave types, offering various leave benefits even in the absence of legal requirements. The categories of non-mandatory leave include:

1. Vacation Leave

In Rhode Island, vacation leave is not regulated by state law, meaning employers are not legally required to provide paid or unpaid vacation. Employers who do provide vacation leave must adhere to their own established policies, especially concerning accrual, usage, and payment upon termination.

2. Voting Leave

Rhode Island does not mandate that employers provide voting leave to their workers. However, companies that do offer this benefit are required to clearly outline the specifics of the policy in the employment contract.

3. Bereavement Leave

In Rhode Island, bereavement leave policies are determined by the employer, as there is no state-mandated requirement for employers to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave. Employers who choose to offer bereavement leave will typically allow a few days off for the death of a close family member.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.