Rhode Island employers – like employers in every state -- must follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave for certain reasons. Once an employee’s FMLA leave is over, the employee has the right to be reinstated to his or her position.
State laws also give employees the right to take time off for family and medical reasons. Employees are entitled to the protections of all applicable laws; if more than one law applies, the employee may use the most beneficial provisions.
Federal FMLA Rights
Rhode Island employees who are eligible may take up to 12 weeks of leave for serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service; more leave is available for employees who need to care for a family member who was seriously injured on active military duty. For detailed information on FMLA leave, see Taking Family and Medical Leave.
Who Is Covered?
Employers in Rhode Island are subject to the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if:
- they have worked for the company for at least a year
- they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and
- they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
Reasons for Leave
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
- bond with a new child
- recuperate from a serious health condition
- care for a family member with a serious health condition
- handle qualifying exigencies arising out of a family member’s military service, or
- care for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty in the military. (You can find more information on these last two types of leave in Military Family Leave for Employees.)
How Much Leave Is Available?
Rhode Island employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave is available every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements explained above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. However, this is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take additional leave for this purpose.
Leave and Reinstatement Rights
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
Rhode Island Family and Medical Leave Laws
In addition to the rights granted by the FMLA, employees in Rhode Island have the right to take time off under several state laws.
Rhode Island Family and Medical Leave
Employers with at least 50 employees must give eligible employees up to 13 weeks off in any two calendar years for these reasons:
- for the birth or adoption of a child
- for the employee’s own serious illness, or
- to care for a family member with a serious illness. Family members include parents-in-law.
Rhode Island Military Family Leave
Employers with at least 15 employees must give time off to eligible employees with a spouse or child who has been called to military service lasting more than 30 days in the state ore the United States. The amount of leave depends on the size of the employer:
- Employers with 50 or more employees must allow employees to take up to 30 days of leave.
- Employers with 15 to 49 employees must allow employees to take up to 15 days of leave.
Small Necessities Law
Employers with at least 50 employees must give eligible employees up to ten hours of unpaid leave in any 12-month period to attend school conferences or other school-related activities for the employee’s child.
Rhode Island Temporary Disability and Caregiver Insurance Program
Rhode Island has a state temporary disability insurance program, funded by withholdings from employees’ paychecks. Eligible employees who are unable to work due to a temporary disability (including pregnancy) can receive partial wage replacement for up to 30 weeks. You can find more information on this program at the website of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
This program has recently been expanded to include paid leave for employees who need time off to bond with a new child or care for a family member with a serious health condition. Employees may take up to four weeks of leave per year for these purposes, paid out of the state's insurance program. These four weeks are not in addition to the 30 weeks available for disabilities. In other words, an employee who uses four weeks of paid caregiving leave has only 26 weeks of temporary disability coverage available for the rest of the year. Find out more from Rhode Island's Temporary Caregiver Insurance brochure.