Rhode Island Labor Laws 2024 | Wage and Hour Laws in Rhode Island


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.

Related topic covered on other pages include:


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.


Other Topics and Resources

There are several other Rhode Island labor laws governing the employers and their workplaces. Below are those topics and resources:

  • Rhode Island child labor laws for children 17 years of age and younger including topics including work during school hours and summer hours, school days and non-school days, summer days of employment (usually June 1 to Labor Day), hour restrictions, work permits, and hazardous occupations.
  • The Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights protects employees workplace civil rights and against discrimination and retaliation. Employees are also protected by federal discrimination laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The state and federal discrimination laws offer employees protections and violations based on the following:
Disability (a mental or physical impairment)Sex, including sexual harassmentGender expressionNational Origin
RaceSexual orientationReligionAncestry
CreedGender identityAge (40+)Pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions
ColorGenetic informationMarital statusConviction status
  • Rhode Island labor laws regarding wage payment laws including covering frequency and manner of wage payments, regular paydays, payday, pay periods, deductions, direct deposit and payroll cards, wage statement, record keeping, final paychecks, and notice requirements.
  • Rhode Island labor laws regarding minimum wage and overtime exemptions covering non-exempt employees and exempt employees.
  • Rhode Island labor law regarding hours worked including rest breaks, meal breaks, on-call, waiting, travel, sleeping, and meeting times.
  • The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training helps employer comply with laws and regulations regarding workplace safety and health. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) which covers federal workplace safety and health requirements.
  • Active duty employees, including those in the national guard, and veterans may also be eligible for military leave under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • The Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Division manages workers’ compensation in Rhode Island and worker compensation insurance claims and enforcement. Employees who are injured on the job may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that minimizes the financial impact on the employee.
  • Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers in Rhode Island are required to provide 60-day advanced notice to any employees that may be impacted by a business closing or mass layoff if 50 or more employees will be impacted.
  • If Rhode Island employers provide employees health insurance benefits, they must comply with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that provides health coverage protections to employees under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events.
  • Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers must provide applicants and employees prior notice before conducting background checks involving credit reports. Other rules and limitation may also apply.

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