It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Rhode Island statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher. 

However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality. 

It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns. 

Here are a few Rhode Island labor laws every small business owner should know.

Resources

First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:

Leave

  • Sick Days: The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act requires employers with at least 18 employees to allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick and safe leave for every 35 hours worked, or paid time off up to a maximum of 32 hours in 2019, and a maximum of 40 hours in the years that follow. 
  • Medical Leave: The Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act requires employers with more than 50 employees to grant an unpaid leave of absence of 13 weeks in any two calendar years for the following reasons:
    • The birth of a child
    • The adoption of a child 16 years of age or younger
    • A serious illness of an employee or their parent, spouse, child, mother-in-law, or father-in-law 
  • Vacation Leave: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation time but must comply with their own established policies if they choose to implement one.
    • Employees who have been with the business for at least one year must be paid for any vacation time accrued in accordance with implemented policy by the next regularly scheduled payday after separation from employment
  • Jury Duty: Employers are not required to pay an employee for time taken to respond to a jury summons, but they are not allowed to punish the employee in any way. 
  • Holiday Leave: Employers are required to pay a rate of 1 ½ times the 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
    • Employees can also refuse to work on Sundays and legal holidays. 
  • Voting Leave: No statute. 
  • Bereavement Leave: Employers are not required to provide bereavement leave.

Final Paycheck

  • Employees who separate from employment for any reason (including termination, resignation and layoffs) must be paid all final wages by the next regularly scheduled payday. 
  • If an employee is terminated due to the employer liquidating or merging the business, closing down the business, or moving it out of state, they must be paid all final wages within 24 hours. 

Minimum Wage

The current minimum wage in Rhode Island is $10.10. 

Tipped Wages

The minimum wage for tipped employees is $3.89. 

Child Labor

  • Minors 14 and 15 years of age may not work:
    • During school hours
    • Before 6 a.m. and after 7 p.m., except during school vacation days when they may work until 9 p.m. 
    • More than 3 hours a day when school is in session and more than 8 hours a day when school is not in session
    • More than 18 hours a week during the school year and 40 hours a week when school is not in session 
  • Minors 16 and 17 years of age may not work:
    • More than 48 hours a week
    • More than 9 hours a day
    • Before 6 a.m. or after 11:30 p.m. when they have school the next day. They may work until 1:30 a.m. when there is no school the next day. 
    • Without an 8-hour gap between the end of a shift and the start of another shift the next day. 
  • There are no hour restrictions for 16 and 17 year olds during the summer, and no restrictions if they have left school. 

Meal and Rest Breaks, Overtime

  • State law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees an overtime rate of 1 ½  their regular rate for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of 40. 
  • Employers (excluding those in the healthcare industry and those with less than 3 employees) are required to provide a 20-minute meal period for 6-hour shifts and a 30-minute meal period for 8-hour shifts. 

Employment Discrimination

  • Rhode Island law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex , disability, ancestral origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and age (at least 40 years of age).
  • Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.       

Termination

Rhode Island is an employment-at-will state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory and that the employer is not retaliating against the employee for a rightful action. 

Shift Scheduling

There are currently no laws regarding shift scheduling in Rhode Island.

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