Rhode Island Labor Laws

Rhode Island Labor Law Breaks

According to Rhode Island labor law, businesses must give workers a 20-minute break for lunch during a six-hour shift and a 30-minute break for lunch during an eight-hour shift. Healthcare facilities and businesses with fewer than three employees working at one location simultaneously are excluded from this.

Rhode Island Leave

Rather than create its own laws in regard to family and medical leave, Rhode Island chose to use federal action under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. This act allows employees to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for medical or family purposes. The Family and Medical Leave Act also guarantees that an individual will have his or her former job when he or she returns to work.

An employer, however, has the right to hire a temporary employee for these twelve weeks but is also required to terminate that employee when the former employee returns. The Family and Medical Leave Act does not protect an individual from being terminated due to other circumstances. For instance, if a company is having financial difficulties and needs to terminate one or two employees, an employee on leave is not exempt from this kind of termination.

The twelve weeks that an individual is allotted are given every year and cannot be spread throughout that year. If an employee wishes to return to work earlier than the completion of the twelve weeks or to work part-time for a month before the allotted time is completed, an employer has the right to deny this request.

The Family and Medical Leave allows employees to take leave to care for an ill child, to care for an elderly parent, to submit to hospitalization, or to submit to any other necessary medical or psychological purpose. Maternity leave falls under this category and includes the care of a newborn and the bonding of adoptive parents with new children. Some companies allow paternity leave.


In 2009 the federal minimum wage was increased to seven dollars and twenty-five cents. This change required all states to meet or exceed this minimum. The state of Rhode Island currently has a minimum wage of seven dollars and forty cents. The minimum wage law states that no employee is to be paid less than this amount.

Employees who obtain tips may legally be paid less than this minimum. Rhode Island’s tipped minimum wage currently stands at two dollars and eighty-nine cents an hour. This is possible only when a tipped employee receives more than thirty dollars in tips a month. The Department of Labor requires employers to allow employees to keep all of their acquired tips. No law exists, by Rhode Island or federal law, that requires an employee to share his or her tips with a salary-paid manager. When tips are pooled by several employees, the tips are to be divided at the end of a shift.

Holiday Pay

Rhode Island does not have a law requiring employers to provide their employees with holidays off or extra payment for working holidays. There is also no federal law in regard to holidays. Federal holidays are not designed for all United States employees. These holidays are provided for government entities as well as the postal service. Employers may provide payment for taking holidays off, extra payment for working holidays, or holidays off in general, at their own discretion.

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