Rhode Island Provides Good Faith Waiver to Employers Under New Leave Act

On Aug. 23, 2018, the Rhode Island Dept. of Labor and Training announced that they will waive the administrative penalties until Jan. 1, 2019, for an employer that mistakenly denies benefits that are required to be offered under the new leave act. Specifically, employers that mistakenly deny paid sick and safe leave benefits could be spared penalties if they acted in good faith and have appropriately compensated affected employees and taken corrective action.

As background, Gov. Raimondo signed the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (HSFWA) into law, requiring employers with at least 18 employees to provide paid sick and safe leaves to covered employees. Employers with fewer than 18 employees must provide unpaid sick and safe leaves. The law phases in over three years, starting with the ability for covered employees to take up to 24 hours of leave in 2018, up to 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours of paid leave thereafter. The law took effect on July 1, 2018.

The law states that employers in violation of the sick and safe leave law may be found liable for a penalty of $100 for the first offense and penalties of $100-$500 for subsequent offenses.

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