Paid Sick and Safe Leave

Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act

As of July 1, 2018, most RI employees have the legal right to earn sick and safe leave from work per RI General Law § 28-57. The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act gives Rhode Island employees the right to take time off from work to care for themselves when they are too sick to work, are injured or have a routine medical appointment. They may also use earned leave to deal with the impact of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. In addition, earned leave may be used to assist their child, spouse, domestic partner or other member of their household for the same purposes.

Under the law, Rhode Island employers with 18 or more employees will be required to offer paid sick and safe leave. Employers with fewer than 18 employees must provide sick and safe leave time, although it does not need to be paid. Covered employees may take up to 40 hours of leave.

Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act FAQ

The law took effect on July 1, 2018. Eligible employees will begin to accrue time immediately.

Employees can use sick and safe leave time if they are too sick to work, are injured or have a routine medical appointment. They may also use sick and safe leave to deal with the impact of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. In addition, employees may use sick and safe leave to assist a family member or a member of their household for the same purposes.

Employers with 18 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave. Employers with 17 or fewer employees must provide earned sick and safe leave, but it does not need to be paid.

Full time employees can earn and use up to 24 hours during 2018, 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours per year thereafter. Once the annual accrual cap is reached, time ceases to accrue. Employers may choose to offer a higher annual accrual limit.

If the reason for leave is planned at least 24 hours in advance, the employee must provide notice to the employer. In instances of unforeseeable leave, such as emergencies, notice must be provided as soon as it is reasonable and in accordance with the employer's policies.

Employers can ask for documentation only in limited circumstances. For example, they can ask for a doctor’s note when the employee misses more than three consecutive workdays.

Employers are not allowed to ask for information about the illness or the details of the domestic violence.

Food employees and managers can be asked to provide documentation if the absence would trigger the employer’s obligations under the RI Food Code 216-RICR-50-10-1.

Employers may have their own sick leave policy or other paid time off policy that employees use as sick leave, as long as the policy provides the same benefits and protections that the law requires, or better. The Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act is not designed to add additional days to an existing leave policy that already meets the requirements.

Employers must post the Notice to All Employees - Information Employers Must Post poster in the workplace, which includes information on the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act. This poster is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Employers should include their sick time policy in any employee handbook or manual.

Employers may also post or distribute the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Fact Sheet.

You will find the answers to more questions in our one-page fact sheet, as well as in the law and regulations.

Fill out a complaint form and mail it to:

RI DLT, Labor Standards Unit
Building 70-2
P.O. Box 20390
Cranston, RI 02920-0944s

Additional Resources