Rhode Island has passed a paid sick leave law, effective July 1, 2018. Note that the provisions outlined below serve as minimum requirements – employers are permitted to go above what is prescribed by the law. Employers who already have a paid leave program that meets or exceeds the law’s requirements need not offer additional leave.

Accrual

Employees (of employers with 18 or more employees in Rhode Island) generally will accrue at least one hour of paid sick and safe leave time (“paid sick leave”) for every 35 hours worked, up to a maximum of 24 hours during calendar year 2018; 32 hours during calendar year 2019; and 40 hours per year beginning in 2020 (unless the employer chooses to provide a higher annual limit in both accrual and use).

Paid sick leave begins to accrue at the commencement of employment or July 1, 2018, whichever is later. An employer may provide all paid sick leave that an employee is expected to accrue in a year at the beginning of the year.

Carryover and Payment

Paid sick leave is generally carried over to the following calendar year. However, an employee’s use of paid sick leave in each calendar year may not exceed 24 hours during calendar year 2018; 32 hours during calendar year 2019; and 40 hours per year beginning in 2020.

Alternatively, an employer may pay an employee for unused earned paid sick leave at the end of a year and provide the employee with an amount of paid sick leave that meets or exceeds the law’s requirements that is available for immediate use at the beginning of the subsequent year.

However, the law does not require financial or other reimbursement upon the employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment for accrued paid sick leave that has not been used.