About This State Supplement Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include This Statement

Employers providing a Rhode Island Supplement should consider including this statement to introduce the supplement, explain how the employer's handbook and supplement should be read together, and make clear that neither the handbook nor the supplement alter an employee's at-will status. In general, state supplements typically address state-specific legal distinctions that may be applicable to the workforce, as well as state-specific policies that are required to be included in a handbook.

Customizable Handbook Statement

About This Rhode Island Supplement

[Company Name] is committed to workplace policies and practices that comply with federal, state and local laws. For this reason, Rhode Island employees will receive the Company's national handbook ("National Handbook") and the Rhode Island Supplement to the National Handbook ("Rhode Island Supplement") (together, the "Employee Handbook").

The Rhode Island Supplement, however, applies only to Rhode Island employees. It is intended as a resource containing specific provisions derived under Rhode Island law that apply to the employee's employment. It should be read together with the National Handbook and, to the extent that the policies in the Rhode Island Supplement are different from or more generous than those in the National Handbook, the policies in the Rhode Island Supplement will apply.

The Rhode Island Supplement is not intended to create a contract of continued employment or alter the at-will employment relationship. Only the President/Owner of the Company or his or her authorized representative has the authority to enter into an agreement that alters the at-will employment relationship, and any such agreement must be in writing and signed by the President/Owner of the Company or his or her authorized representative.

If employees have any questions about these policies, they should contact their Human Resources representative [or insert name/contact details for appropriate company representative or department].

Guidance for Employers

  • Providing state-specific supplements to a handbook can be an effective way for multistate employers to communicate information to employees and ensure compliance.
  • Rhode Island does not have any requirement that any laws be communicated to employees in a handbook, though it does require distribution of a sexual harassment policy and a policy regarding temporary caregiver insurance (TCI) upon hire for certain employers. Although the policies in this supplement are not strictly required, many are strongly encouraged.
  • It is important to establish that a handbook and any related supplement are not a contract and do not alter the at-will nature of the employment relationship. The purpose of a statement like this is to avoid claims that any provisions in a handbook or supplement create an express or implied agreement to, among other things, employ the employee for a certain period of time or follow certain steps before terminating an employee.
  • The disclaimer preserving at-will status is important, but these kinds of statements have also drawn scrutiny from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The provision that suggests the at-will nature of the employment relationship could be changed by the President/Owner or his or her authorized representative is meant to comply with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by leaving open the possibility that employees could change their at-will status through a future collective bargaining agreement.