Rhode Island Parental Family Medical Leave vs. Federal FMLA Comparison for HR & Managers

Rhode Island Parental Family Medical Leave
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Rhode Island Parental Family Medical Leave

Currently several states have started offering family medical leaves. Three states offer paid family medical leave including California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

However, Rhode Island’s’ Parental Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFML) provides up to 13 weeks of unpaid leave with the possibility that part or all of it is paid. Eligible employees are able to take the 13 weeks of leave every 2 years.

Employees who take leave under Rhode Island’s Parental & Family Medical Leave may be able to use some of their time receiving pay. If the employee also qualifies for the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), they can receive up to 30 weeks of paid leave. TDI is applicable for employees who are unable to work due to illness or injury. 

Additionally, as part of the TDI program, employees can receive up to 4 weeks of paid benefits to care for a family member. Both the TDI benefits and Rhode Island’s Parental and Family Medical Leave may be able to run concurrently with each other and FMLA.

The purpose of this article is to provide an outline of Rhode Island’s Family Medical Leave and a comparison with the Federal FMLA laws.

Eligible Employees under Rhode Island’s Family Medical Leave

RIPFML covers all employers who have at least 50 employees or more. The law does not specifically identify whether or not those employees must be located within the state. Employers should consult an attorney as some states with similar verbiage have included all employees, even those outside the state’s geographical borders. All Rhode Island State employees are covered and any other municipality or other government entity with at least 30 or more employees are covered employers under the law. The only exception is that Federal Government Employees are not covered.

In order to qualify for Parental and Family Medical Leave, the employee must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months continuously, and must have averaged 30 hours of work a week.

This is different from the Federal FMLA, which requires 12 months of employment with the employer, but those months don’t have to be consecutive. Additionally, while Rhode Island’s Family Medical Leave requires that employees have averaged 30 hours a week previous to the week, FMLA only requires that the employee work at least 1,250 hours with the employer in the previous 12 months.

Eligible Reasons to take Parental Family Medical Leave

Family Medical Leave is allowed under four reasons.

First, parents can take leave after the birth of a child.

Secondly, when a child is placed with the employee through adoption. The child must be under the age of 16 in order to qualify.

Third, when an employee’s family member has a serious illness, the employee can take time off to care for them. Serious illness is defined as any disabling physical or mental injury, illness, health condition, impairment, or condition that requires continuous treatment by a health care provider. That includes in-patient treatment at a hospital, residential care facility, hospice, nursing home, or outpatient care that requires continuous care.

Fourth, employees can take leave for their own debilitating illness that prevents them from working.  

Lastly, employees are allowed up to 10 hours of leave a year to attend school-related conferences or activities for their child. The employee must give the employer at least 24 hours notice for school leave.

  • Birth of a child
  • Adoption of a child
  • Serious Illness of a qualified Family Member
  • Employee’s own serious illness or injury
  • School Leave (only 10 hours of leave available a year) – Leave would not qualify as FMLA leave.

These reasons are similar to FMLA and in most cases, employers can provide the State leave and Federal FMLA leave concurrently. One main exception is in the case of leave to care for certain family members. The only main difference is that FMLA does allow for military leave, while RIPFML does not.

Rhode Island’s Family Military Leave Act fills gap in Parental Family Medical Leave

However, under Rhode Island’s Family Military Leave Act, family members can take unpaid leave when a spouse or parent is called into active duty. The act covers any employer with 15 or more employees and the employee must qualify the same as with the Federal FMLA.

Employees can take up to 15 or 30 days, depending on the size of their employers. Leave is 15 days for small employers with less than 50 employees and 30 days for employees with larger employers with over 50 employees.

Unlike FMLA, Rhode Island’s Family Military Leave Act allows family members to take leave anytime during the service member’s active duty.

Family Member Relationships under Parental & Family Medical Leave

The allowable family members under Rhode Island’s Family Medical Leave law includes the employee’s spouse, child, parents, and in-laws.

  • Child
  • Spouse
  • Parent

These family relationships differs from The state’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) , which provides 4 weeks of paid leave to care for family members.

TCI is part of the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance and provides up to 4 weeks of paid leave to care for family members with a serious illness.

In most cases TCI, Parental and Family Medical Leave and FMLA can run concurrently with each other.

However, TCI includes the additional family relationships of domestic and civil partners and their parents and children.TCI also includes grandparents and grandchildren as allowed family relationships and any “blood affinity” that is similar to a family relationship. The law specifically states that a blood or legal relationship doesn’t need to exist.

If an employee takes TCI to care for any of these additional family relationships, then TCI would not run concurrently with Rhode Island’s Parental and Family Medical Leave nor with Federal FMLA.

Rhode Island’s Family Medical Leave allows for parent in law relationships, but the Federal FMLA does not. Therefore, if an employee takes state provide leave to care for a parent in law, they would still be eligible to take federal FMLA leave to care for a parent, child or spouse.

Maintaining Benefits and Health Coverage During Parental Family Medical Leave

Employers must provide a way for employees to maintain benefits coverage during their leave. However, employees must pay the full premiums for all benefits and deposit them with the employer before taking leave. Once the employee returns to work, the employer has 10 days to return any unused premiums back to the employee.

Anti Retaliation

Employees are protected from retaliation for using Rhode Island’s Parental Family Medical Leave as they are under FMLA.

Additionally, once they return to work, they must be reinstated to the same or to a similar job. An equivalent position must be similar in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment. That includes fringe benefits that the employee enjoyed previous to taking the leave.

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses who have employees in Rhode Island or a growing list of other states and cities may have to comply with multiple conflicting leave laws defining sick leave accrual, parental leave, and usage laws.

Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act, Affordable Care Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted.

SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.

Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.


Q&A Parental Medical Leave

Parental and Family Medical Leave Act

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated May 25, 2017

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