In Rhode Island, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
According to Rhode Island law, an employer must pay an employee who has completed at least one (1) year of service, upon separation from employment, for any vacation pay accrued in accordance with company policy or contract on the next regular payday for the employee. RI Stat. 28-14-4(b).
This also means an employer cannot require an employee to comply with specific requirements to qualify for payment of vacation leave upon separation from employment, such as providing a certain number of days notice of intent to leave or not be terminated for misconduct, so long as the employee has at least one year of service with the employer.
Neither Rhode Island’s Legislature or courts have clarified whether an employer can cap accrued leave (although this is probably lawful) or implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it.
Beginning on July 1, 2018, Rhode Island will require certain employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Rhode Island Sick Leave Law. Additionally, employers in Rhode Island may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with RI Parental & Family Medical Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Rhode Island requires employers to pay employees 1½ times their regular rate on Sundays and the following holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Victory Day
- Labor Day
- Columbus Day
- Veterans’ Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
The law also permits employees to refuse to work on Sundays and legal holidays. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, the day following is observed as the legal holiday. Some exceptions apply to Rhode Island’s Sunday and holiday pay law. RI Dept. of Labor FAQs; RI Statute 25-3.
Visit our Rhode Island State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Rhode Island as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.
Jury Duty Leave
An employer is not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury. An employer may not discharge, or deny wage increases, promotions, longevity benefits, or any other benefit due to the employee because the employee has been called to serve jury duty. RI Statute 9-9-28
Rhode Island does not have a law that requires an employer to grant its employees leave, either paid or unpaid, to vote.
Rhode Island law does not require employers to provide employee bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice it maintains.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Rhode Island employers must provide time off to ailing employees through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Employees that take leave under the FMLA are entitled to 12 weeks of leave within 12 months. These 12 weeks will be unpaid unless your employer has a separate policy allowing you to be paid for your time off.
Employers must give employees access to their health insurance benefits and allow employees to use their accrued paid time off if needed.
Employees requiring medical leave through the FMLA must meet specific requirements, which include:
- Have worked for your current company for at least a year
- Have worked at least 1250 hours the previous year
- Work at a location with 50+ employees within a 75-mile radius
There are also several reasons employees opt to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. This type of leave is available if you must:
- Recuperate from a serious ailment
- Bond with a new child
- Manage extenuating circumstances arising from an ailment
- Care for a sick family member
- Care for a sick military family member
Under the FMLA, these employees can receive 26 weeks of leave within 12 months. However, this time off is per service member per injury. There are also specifications at the state level that employers must follow in Rhode Island.
Currently, the state requires employees with 50+ employees to offer up to 13 weeks of leave off per two calendar years. To be eligible for this type of leave, employees must:
- Need to take leave for the adoption or birth of a child
- Require a time off to manage a serious illness
- Require leave to care for a family member (including in-law parents) with a serious illness
Military members in Rhode Island are entitled to the same benefits that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers, including:
- Employees have the right to continue group healthcare benefits for 24 months of their leave
- Upon return, employees must be reinstated to the same (or equivalent) previously held position
- Employees must receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service (with exceptions)
The state also offers military family leave for family members of enlisted personnel.
Employers with a minimum of 15 employees must provide leave to employees who have had a child or spouse called to the military. The service must last more than 30 days to be eligible for this type of leave.
The amount of time you’ll receive depends on the number of employees your company has. For example, employers with 50+ employees must offer 30 days of leave. Smaller companies with fewer than 50 employees must offer 15 days of leave.