Wage and Hour Laws in Rhode Island | Current Rhode Island Labor Laws


Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in Rhode Island is $11.50. Like other states, Rhode Island must comply with the federal minimum wage standard of $7.25. If employers opt to pay their employees minimum wage, they must pay either the federal or state minimum wage rate, whichever is higher.

As a tipped employee, your minimum wage is $3.89. Employers are responsible for paying tipped minimum wage to their employees unless they work with taxicabs and public motor vehicles. If employers choose to pay the tipped minimum wage, they must ensure that with tips included, their employees earn a minimum wage.Visit our Rhode Island minimum wage information page to learn more about minimum wage in Rhode Island.

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Overtime

Rhode Island labor laws require an employer to pay overtime to employees, unless otherwise exempt, at the rate of 1½ times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. RI Statute 23-12-4.1; RI Dept. of Labor FAQs. See FLSA: Overtime for more information regarding overtime requirements.


Prevailing Wages

Under certain circumstances, employers in Rhode Island may be required to pay residents wage rates established by the federal or state prevailing wage rates and rules. The prevailing wage rates may be different from the state’s standard minimum wage rates.

Employees may be eligible for prevailing wages if they work on federal or state government or government-funded construction projects or perform certain federal or state government services. See the Rhode Island Prevailing Wages, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), and Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act (PCA) for more information about prevailing wages.


Meals and Breaks

Rhode Island labor laws require employers to provide employees with a 20-minute meal period during a six-hour shift, and a 30-minute meal during an eight-hour shift. This does not include healthcare facilities or companies employing fewer than three employees at one site during a shift. RI Dept. of Labor FAQs.


Nursing Mother Breaks

Rhode Island labor laws required employers to provide employees who are nursing mothers with reasonable unpaid break time each day to breastfeed or express breast milk unless providing the breaks would create an undue hardship on the operations of the employer. The breaks must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time the employer already provides.

Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide employees who are nursing mothers with a private, secure, and sanitary room or location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to their work area where they may breastfeed or express breast milk.

For purposes of nursing mother breaks, reasonable efforts mean any effort that would not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer. An under hardship is any action that requires significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the business, its financial resources and the nature and structure of its operation.

RI Statute 23-13.2-1


Vacation Leave

Employers aren’t obligated to provide employees with unpaid or paid vacation benefits. If an employer decides to do so, they must abide by the rules set in their employment contracts or policies.

According to state law, employers must pay employees with at least one year of service accrued vacation pay upon termination of employment. This amount must be provided on the next regular payday of the employee leaving the company.

Employers cannot require employees to meet eligibility requirements to receive vacation pay upon employment separation. The only restriction is that the employee must have been working for the business for one year.

Visit our Rhode Island vacation leave information page to learn more about vacation leave in Rhode Island.


Sick Leave

Certain employers must provide paid sick leave to their employees in Rhode Island. This came into effect on July 1st, 2018, as per the Rhode Island Sick Leave Law. Employers might also have to provide employees with unpaid sick leave regarding the Rhode Island Parental & Family Medical Leave Act.

It’s important to note that certain employees could require unpaid sick leave as per the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Employers must ensure their employees have access to fundamental sick leave.

Visit our Rhode Island sick leave information page to learn more about sick leave in Rhode Island.


Holiday Leave

Rhode Island is one of the few states that require employers to pay their employees special rates for working on holidays. Additionally, the state requires employers to pay employers 1.5x their regular wages on Sundays.

Several holidays fall into this spectrum, some of which include:

  • Independence Day
  • New Year’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

In addition to offering holiday pay on special holidays and Sundays, employees can refuse to work on said days. If holidays fall on Sundays, the following day is considered the legally observed holiday. That said, there are some exceptions depending on the industry you work in.Visit our Rhode Island holiday leave information page to learn more about holiday leave in Rhode Island.


Jury Duty Leave

Employers in Rhode Island aren’t required to provide employees with pay regarding time spent serving on a jury. They cannot discharge, threaten, or coerce employees who must handle a jury summons. Additionally, employers can take no other benefits away from the employee because of jury duty.Visit our Rhode Island jury duty information page to learn more about jury duty leave in Rhode Island.


Voting Leave

Currently, there aren’t any laws requiring employers to provide voting leave to their employees. You won’t receive any time off, whether paid or unpaid, unless decided upon by your employer.

Visit our Rhode Island voting leave information page to learn more about voting leave in Rhode Island.


Severance Pay

Rhode Island labor laws do not require employers to provide employees with severance pay. If an employer chooses to provide severance benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.


Unemployment

In many instances, employees in Rhode Island can apply for unemployment benefits while looking for another job. However, there are specific eligibility requirements all applicants need to meet to be approved for benefits.

In Rhode Island, the eligibility requirements include:

  • Applicants must have earned at least $14,700 in their base or alternate period.
  • Applicants must be unemployed.
  • Applicants must have been employed within the past 12 months (varies case-to-case).
  • Applicants must continue seeking work each week they receive benefits.

Visit Rhode Island’s unemployment information page to learn more about unemployment benefits in Rhode Island.


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We hope you find our newsletters help you better navigate employment and labor law issues.