Rhode Island maternity and family leave laws are different from most states. Residents enjoy extended job protection rights, along with many paid time off opportunities.

Like most other state laws, there are eligibility requirements and special rules to follow. Federal regulations overlap and extend certain rights. It is important to know what you may qualify for.

Brushing up on the Ocean State’s parental leave laws and benefits should answer some common questions.

  • What amount of income replacement will you get?
  • How long do job and health insurance protections last?
  • What labor laws apply to women during pregnancy?
  • Who qualifies for each set of legal rights?

Rhode Island Maternity Leave Pay Benefits

Rhode Island does offer a variety of paid maternity and family medical leave benefits. Several programs offer partial income replacement for different situations and individuals.

Partial income replacement means each person experiences a pay cut. In addition, these benefits can end before the family member is ready to return to work. Check out all your options.

Maternity Leave Assistance

Submit a personal loan request form for temporary financial assistance. If approved, the extra money could come in handy. Each government program has holes that new parents may need to fill.

  • 40% pay cut for new parents
  • 30-week limit for moms and other disabled individuals
  • 4-week limit for caretakers and baby bonding

Repaying loans during maternity leave has challenges and opportunities. Make certain that you can return to work quickly before borrowing money. You will need your income to repay the lender. On the other hand, people with existing student loans or a mortgage can temporarily put payments on hold.

Temporary Disability Insurance

Rhode Island Temporary Disability Insurance (RI-TDI) covers mothers during pregnancy and maternity leave. The benefits last for up to 30 weeks. Some women can exhaust the time.

The temporary disability program replaces a portion of mom’s income if she must stop working prior to her due date. Many women are unable to work due to pregnancy-related medical complications.

  • 1st-trimester bed rest lasts up to 36 weeks
  • 2nd-trimester complications last up to 24 weeks
  • 3rd-trimester bed rest lasts up to 12 weeks

The temporary disability program also replaces a portion of income during maternity leave. It pays benefits while mom is recovering from labor and delivery.

  • Vaginal birth lasts 8 weeks
  • C-section delivery lasts 12 weeks

Temporary Caregiver Insurance

The Rhode Island Temporary Caregiver Insurance (RI-TCI) also provides paid family leave benefits. The program provides up to four weeks of partial income replacement when a person must stop working in order to care for a sick family member.1

You can use RI-TCI to care for a sick child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or to bond with a newborn child, an adopted child, or foster-care child.

New mothers should wait until they recover from labor and delivery before applying for RI-TCI baby bonding benefits. This extends the total length of partial income replacement to up to 34 weeks.

Collecting Unemployment

Collecting unemployment after maternity leave is feasible in Rhode Island in rare situations.

First, applicants must meet the unemployment eligibility requirements.

  • Have earned a minimum amount in wages before unemployment
  • Unemployed through no fault of your own
  • Able and available to work, and seeking employment

Second, a policy memorandum outlines steps for people who voluntarily quit or faced discharge. Those separating due to illness or disability of a family member are eligible.2

  • Mothers are ineligible if they quit working because of their own medical condition
  • Fathers may qualify if discharged after taking care a sick infant or mother

Paid Sick Leave

The Rhode Island Health and Safe Families and Workplace Act takes effect in January 2018. The law requires employers with 18 or more workers to provide three days of paid sick or safe leave in 2018. This increases to four days in 2019, and five days in 2020.3

Expectant and parents have another modest way of continuing income while away from work. However, a handful of extra days are not meant for maternity leave scenarios.

Rhode Island Family Medical Leave Laws

Rhode Island family medical leave laws offer unpaid job protections and health insurance continuation. The length of time a person can be absent from work depends on employer size, and the number of hours worked by the individual, and the reasons triggering the need.

Both a state-based and federal regulation may come into play during maternity and/or paternity leave. Women may be able to enjoy up to 25-weeks by stacking pregnancy disability, recovery from childbirth, and baby bonding time.

Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act

The Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act (RI-PFLA RIGL 28-48) offers employment and health benefits safeguards. The legal protections last for 13 weeks of unpaid time off over a 24-month period.4

Eligibility

Not every worker qualifies under the Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act. The criteria include employer size, and hours worked.

Covered employers include the following.

  • Private companies – with 50 or more employees worldwide
  • State workers – all offices
  • City, Town, or Municipal – with 30 or more employees

Covered individuals include the following.

  • Worked for the same employer for at least 12 consecutive months
  • Averaged 30 hours of work with this employer over that time

 Reasons for Leave

The Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act defines the qualifying reasons for a covered work absence. Notice that the list does not include an employee’s own medical condition.

  • Birth of a child of an employee
  • Placement of an adoptive child under the age of 16
  • Serious illness of a family member

Federal Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal regulation. The law requires employers to offer unpaid job and health insurance protections. The safeguards last for up to 12 weeks during any 12-month period.

Parents can take advantage of their FMLA protections in the following cases:

  • Taking care of a newborn infant
  • A new adopted or foster child in your home
  • Caring for a family member with a serious medical problem
  • An employee’s own medical condition

RIPFLA vs. FMLA

The most significant difference between the RI-PFLA and the FMLA comes into play when a woman takes a pregnancy leave prior to her due date. The Rhode Island act does not cover this time, whereas the federal version does.

FMLA covers the time mom cannot work for up to 12 weeks because of her own medical condition.

  • Pregnancy-related medical complications before her due date
  • Recovery from labor and delivery
    • 6 weeks vaginal birth
    • 8 weeks C-section

RI-PFLA covers the time mom spends bonding with her baby for up to 13 weeks. Keep in mind that 9 weeks of this time will be unpaid. The RI-TCI income benefits expire after 4 weeks.

Rhode Island Labor Laws for Pregnancy

Rhode Island labor laws protect the rights of pregnant woman in the workplace. There are both regional and federal pregnancy employee rights laws in America’s smallest state.

Pregnancy Accommodation Bill

The state of Rhode Island has its own Pregnancy Accommodation Act. The governor signed the bill in 2015. It requires employers to “accommodate a current or prospective employee’s condition related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.”

The notice requires companies to accommodate their staff during and after a pregnancy. Some of the adjustments include:

  • Taking longer breaks
  • Time off after childbirth
  • New equipment or seating
  • Temporary transfer to a less strenuous position

The cities of Central Falls and Providence had their own Pregnancy Accommodation laws. This new initiative builds upon the city-specific guidelines.5

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a nationwide law. The PDA protects expectant mothers’ rights while looking for a job, and while working.

The PDA covers work reassignments, modified schedules, breastfeeding, and health insurance. It applies to organizations with 15 or more employees.

Who Qualifies for Rhode Island Parental Leave

Rhode Island parental and family medical leave of absence laws do not apply evenly to every person. The rules exclude certain groups and convey benefits in unique ways.

Fathers on paternity leave and small business employees each have distinctive experiences.

Paternity Leave

Determining the Rhode Island paternity leave policies requires detective work. Fathers need to examine a variety of laws to determine which apply to them and when.

  • Temporary disability insurance does not cover fathers. Men remain physically able to work.
  • Temporary caregiver insurance does cover new dads. He qualifies for baby bonding or care of his wife suffering pregnancy complications.
  • Unemployment compensation could honor claims if a father must quit his job to care for his wife suffering complications or a seriously ill infant.
  • Both the RI-PFLA and the FMLA cover fathers during paternity leave. However, dads must take the leave concurrently. Therefore, the maximum time is 13 weeks.

Small Business

Small business employees in Rhode Island do not qualify for important job and health insurance protections. However, they can take advantage of the partial income replacement benefits. Each regulation has employee size requirements.

  • RI-TDI pertains to businesses of all sizes
  • RI-TCI applies to businesses of all sizes
  • RI-PFLA does not cover small business with less than 50 employees nationwide
  • FMLA does not cover small businesses with under 50 employees in a 75-mile radius

Sources:

  1. Temporary Caregivers
  2. Unemployment Compensation
  3. Paid Sick Leave
  4. Parental and Family Leave Act
  5. Pregnancy Accommodation Act
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