Parental and Family Medical Leave Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

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

When to Include This Statement

Rhode Island employers with 50 or more employees should include this statement in their handbook to inform employees about their rights and obligations under the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFMLA) and to demonstrate compliance with the law.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Parental and Family Medical Leave

We recognize that an employee may need to be absent from work for an extended period of time for family and/or medical reasons. Accordingly, the Company will grant time off to employees in accordance with the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (Fed-FMLA) and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act (RIPFMLA). If both the fed-FMLA and RIPFMLA apply, the leave provided by each will count against the employee's entitlement under both laws and must be taken concurrently. An employee who is eligible for leave under only one of these laws will receive benefits in accordance with that law only.

The following policy addresses employees' rights under the RIPFMLA. Employees should refer to the National Handbook for additional details regarding the Fed-FMLA. All questions concerning this policy should be directed to Human Resources [or insert name of appropriate company representative or department].

Employee Eligibility

To be eligible for leave under the RIPFMLA, an employee must have been employed by the Company for at least 12 consecutive months and be a full-time employee, working an average of at least 30 hours per week.

Leave Entitlement

Eligible employees may request leave under this policy for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of the employee's child or the placement for adoption of a child 16 years of age or younger with the employee;
  • The employee's own serious illness; and
  • The serious illness of the employee's parent, spouse, child, mother-in-law or father-in-law.

For purposes of this policy, a "serious illness" is defined as a disabling physical or mental illness, injury, impairment or condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, nursing home or hospice, or outpatient care requiring continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

Length of Leave

Eligible employees are allowed to take up to 13 consecutive workweeks of leave under the RIPFMLA in any two calendar years. If a leave qualifies under both the fed-FMLA and the RIPFMLA, the leave will count against the employee's entitlement under both laws and run concurrently.

Notice and Certification

Employees must give at least 30 days' written notice of the intended dates on which parental or family leave will begin and end unless a medical emergency prevents giving such notice.  The employee's notice must include the employee's name, his or her position at the company and a detailed description of the circumstances entitling the employee to leave under this policy. In addition, the Company may require employees to provide certification from a physician indicating the probable duration of the employee's leave.

Compensation and Benefits During Leave

Leave taken under this policy is unpaid, although, depending upon the circumstances, employees may be eligible for temporary caregiver insurance benefits, as described more fully in the Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program and Leave policy contained in this Rhode Island Supplement. The use of paid benefits will not extend the length of a RIPFMLA leave.

The Company will maintain an employee's existing health benefits during the course of their leave as if the employee had continued in employment and had not taken leave. Benefits accrued prior to the leave will not be lost due to the leave of absence.

[OPTIONAL: Prior to leave, an employee must provide the Company with his or her portion of the premium required to maintain health benefits during the leave. The Company will return this payment within 10 days of the employee's return to work.]

Reinstatement

Upon expiration of leave under the RIPFMLA, employees will be reinstated to their former position or a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other related terms and conditions of employment in accordance with the law.

Guidance for Employers

  • This statement is intended to be used together with a federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy statement.
  • In most instances, the RIPFMLA runs concurrently with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In some situations, however, employees may be entitled to leave under the RIPFMLA but not under the FMLA, for example, when the leave is due to the serious illness of an in-law.
  • Under the RIPFMLA, employers may require that the 13 weeks of leave be used consecutively in one single block of time (i.e., there is no right to intermittent leave).
  • Employees are required to provide at least 30 days' notice of the intended date upon which leave will start and end, unless prevented by medical emergency from giving such notice. Notice to the employer must be in writing and must verify the truthfulness of the factual representations made by the employee. The notice must include information that reasonably identifies the employee and his or her employment relationship to the employer, as well as a detailed description of the circumstances entitling the employee to leave.
  • Upon return, employees are entitled to reinstatement to their prior position or a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • Employers may require written medical certification from a physician caring for the family member who is the reason for the employee's leave, and the certification must specify the probable duration of the leave.
  • Under the RIPFMLA, employers may require employees to pay, before a leave begins, the premiums required to maintain health benefits during the leave. The employer must then return the payment to the employee within 10 days of reinstatement. Thus, when leave qualifies under the RIPFMLA only, an employer may enforce these types of provisions. Because these provisions would not be lawful under the federal FMLA, they may not be enforced when leave under the state and federal laws run concurrently. In practice, most employers do not implement these provisions since the administrative burden of differentiating between the two laws in these ways does not seem worth any benefit of doing so.
  • Same-sex marriage is legal in Rhode Island. The state also recognizes same-sex marriages validly performed out of state, as well as civil unions or registered domestic partnerships formed out of state. Thus, all legally married same-sex spouses, civil union partners and domestic partners are entitled to leave under the RIPFMLA under the same terms as opposite-sex spouses.
  • Employers that allow employees to use sick leave after the birth of a child must allow the same time to be used by an employee in connection with the adoption of a child age 16 years or younger.
  • Download the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act poster, required for employers covered by the RIPFMLA.
  • Supervisors should be trained regarding how to respond to requests for leave so that they do not take any adverse actions (e.g., termination, demotion) against employees who are eligible for leave and who request or take leave.

Additional Resources

Family and Medical Leave Handbook Statement: Federal