Proposed Regulations Published on Rhode Island’s Paid Sick Leave Law

In March 2018, the Rhode Island (RI) Department of Labor and Training published proposed rules relating to RI’s new Paid Sick and Safe Leave Time (PSSLT) law, which takes effect July 1, 2018. As background, the PSSLT requires employers with 18 or more employees in RI to provide 24 hours of paid sick and safety leave. The hour entitlement will increase to 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours in 2020 and beyond. Employees can take paid leave to deal with their own or their household members’ illness or domestic violence.

The proposed regulations clarify that a ‘household member’ includes not only a tax dependent of the employee, but also any person who resides at the same physical address as the employee. This is slightly different than other leave laws, which generally include only the employee’s federal tax dependents (or their registered domestic partner).

In determining if the PSSLT law applies to an employer, the proposed regulations state that it applies to employers who maintained an average of 18 or more employees in RI ‘during the previous payroll year’s highest two employment quarters’. This is also different from other state and federal counting rules, which generally rely on the previous calendar year count for employees.

The proposed regulations define “employee” to include full time, part time and per diem employees, among others. According to the regulations, employees can accrue earned sick time/PSSLT benefits for all hours worked and all hours paid while collecting paid time off benefits (which includes holiday and vacation pay, personal time, and sick time).

Finally, the regulations state that the requirement of employee documentation (doctor’s certification or something similar) after a three-day absence would be considered unreasonable and waived if the cost to the employee (for administration, governmental or medical fees, or transportation costs) exceeds two times his or her hourly rate of pay.

RI employers should review the proposed regulations and work with outside counsel in developing their leave policies in a way that meets the requirements of the upcoming law.

Proposed Regulations »