How long is maternity leave for Rhode Island mothers and paternity leave for RI fathers? The answer depends on many factors.

Wage support benefits for mothers can continue for 34 weeks or longer, but you probably want to return to work well before reaching this milestone.

Legal job rights can last up to 25 weeks for mothers but only 13 for fathers. Of course, you must work for a covered employer and meet employee eligibility criteria for two FMLA laws.

Parents who work for small businesses with less than 50 employees do not qualify under either FMLA rule. Your employee handbook is then the place to turn.

Paid Parental Leave in RI

The paid parental leave benefits in Rhode Island can last up to 34 weeks for mothers but only 4 for fathers – unless one of them loses their job because FMLA does not apply or runs out. Then, an additional 26 weeks of income support could become available after a possible delay.

Also, the rules apply based on your place of employment rather than your residence. Commuters to and from Massachusetts and Connecticut follow the labor laws in the state where they work.

Paid Family Leave (TCI)

The Rhode Island Temporary Caregivers Insurance (TCI) provides paid family leave benefits for new mothers and fathers that last for a maximum of four weeks. TCI replaces up to 60% of income subject to a cap of $795 each period – before dependency allowances.[1]

New parents can tap into TCI paid family leave benefits for several reasons.

  • Fathers caring for a seriously ill wife suffering pregnancy complications
  • Bonding with a newborn child, newly adopted child or recently placed foster-care child
  • Either parent watching over a baby born with a severe medical condition

Paid Maternity Leave (TDI)

The Rhode Island Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) offers paid maternity leave benefits to mothers during the time she is unable to work for pregnancy-related medical reasons. The TDI claims payments can last up to 30 weeks, but might not last long enough.

Mom can claim TDI maternity leave benefits under three common scenarios. The reasons could combine to prevent her from performing job duties for longer than the allotted time.

  1. Medical complications of pregnancy that occur before her due date
    • 2nd Trimester: 182 days
    • 3rd Trimester: 91 days
  2. Recovery from childbirth (labor and delivery)
    • Vaginal Birth: 42 days
    • Cesarean Section: 56 days
  3. Postpartum medical complications that delay her return to work indefinitely

Unemployment

Unemployment insurance in Rhode Island can extend paid parental leave benefits if dad and or mom lose their job while off from work. These wage support payments can last up to 26 weeks. 

As you will read below, legal employment protections under FMLA have numerous holes, which means that many parents might face job termination. However, new mothers and fathers cannot collect unemployment until after they first meet three universal criteria.

  1. Physically able to work (not disabled after childbirth)
  2. Available for employment (not taking care of a spouse or infant)
  3. Actively seek a new job

RI unemployment law permits benefits to former employees who voluntarily quit work with good cause, which includes “the need to take care for a member of the individual’s immediate family due to illness or disability.”[2]

  • Mothers fit this definition when her infant has severe medical issues from premature delivery, birth injuries, and other maladies
  • Fathers meet the criteria when he needs to care for his wife suffering from pregnancy complications, or to watch over a sick infant

RI Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Rhode Island has two family medical leave acts that work together to provide unpaid job protection and health insurance continuation that could last for zero, twelve, thirteen, or twenty-five weeks.

The answer to how long this set of legal rights will continue for you depends on your eligibility under each regulation and individual circumstances.

Federal FMLARhode Island PFMLA

Covered Employers

·        50 + employees working in a 75-mile radius – private

·        Public agency

·        School systems

·        50 + employees worldwide – private

·        State agency

·        30 + employees municipal offices

Eligible Employees

·        12 consecutive months with the same employer

·        1,250 hours working in the last 12 months

·        12 consecutive months with the same employer

·        1,560 hours working in the last 12 months

Qualifying Reasons

·        Birth of a child of an employee

·        Placement of an adoptive child under the age of 16

·        Serious illness of a family member

·        Disability of the employee

·        Birth of a child of an employee

·        Placement of an adoptive or foster child

·        Serious illness of a family member

Small businesses employ about half the population. Both laws cover employers in private industry with more than 50 employees (with slightly different qualifiers). Therefore, about 50% of new mothers and fathers have zero weeks of legal rights under these regulations. Read through your employee handbook – if your small business owner has one.

Federal FMLA

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides four fundamental legal rights to Rhode Island parents who qualify under the law. Because the regulation applies evenly across the country, that state where you live or work has no impact.

  1. Unpaid time off from work lasting 12 weeks
  2. Reinstatement to the same or equivalent position
  3. Continuation of fringe benefits including health insurance
  4. Freedom from discrimination or retaliation for taking time off

Notice that the federal FMLA includes the disability of an employee. This seemingly insignificant detail allows mothers to take off while she is physically unable to work.

  • Pregnancy complications before the due date
  • Recovery from labor and delivery (childbirth)
  • Postpartum medical issues and possibly depression

State FMLA

The Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) is the state-based FMLA counterpart, which provides 13 weeks of unpaid time off with the same legal rights.[3]

Notice that the PFMLA excludes the disability of an employee as a qualifying reason. On the surface, this omission appears detrimental. However, in practice, it proves extra generous – when mom qualifies under both laws.

  • Work for a covered employer
  • Meet employee eligibility rules

Mothers can apply the maternity leave rules consecutively under two mutually exclusive qualifying reasons and remain away from work for 25 weeks in total.

  • FMLA for her disability: 12
    • Pregnancy complications
    • Recovery from childbirth
    • Postpartum disorders
  • PFMLA for caretaking: 13
    • Birth of a newborn baby
    • Care of a sick infant

RI Paternity Leave

Rhode Island fathers taking paternity leave may also want to estimate how long their income support payments and job security might last. For this answer, you have to apply the five programs outlined above to men.

Paternity leave pay for fathers could last up to 30 weeks in theory but would come with a devastating job loss.

  1. TCI continues for up to 4
  2. TDI does not apply to fathers
  3. Unemployment compensation could last 26

Paternity leave legal rights last up to only 13 weeks because men must take FMLA and PFMLA concurrently because the qualifying reasons are mutually inclusive.

  • 0 weeks for fathers ineligible under both laws
  • 12 weeks for dads eligible for FMLA only
  • 13 weeks for men qualified under PFMLA

Footnoted Sources:

[1] RI Department of Labor and Training

[2] Justia Law – RI Unemployment Voluntary Quit

[3] RI Division of Human Resources