If you're pregnant and an employee in Rhode Island — and you are interested in what your pregnancy and maternity leave rights are — the leave laws can be complicated. That said, unlike most states, Rhode Island is one of just three states in the United States that guarantees women a partially paid maternity leave under the state's Temporary Caregiver Insurance program.
Disclaimer: We tried very hard to summarize what the high-level points we think you should know if you're a pregnant, working woman in Rhode Island. However we're not attorneys and we don't claim to have covered every single detail, so please check Rhode Island's Department of Labor and Training website for complete information.
What Is Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) in Rhode Island and How Does it Apply to Me?
If your doctor determines that you are unable to work due to medical complications related to your pregnancy or childbirth, you may receive temporary disability benefits every week to cover a portion of your lost wages. The maximum period you may receive TDI benefits is 30 weeks.
What Is Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) in Rhode Island?
Employees earning wages in Rhode Island are eligible for TCI which provides up to 4 weeks of partially paid family leave for the period of time you wish to bond with a newborn baby (or adopted child). Both parents of a child may use TCI, and it also provides leave coverage for any child that becomes part of your family through birth, adoption, of foster care, regardless of the child's age. Finally, it is also available if a person needs to take time off of work to give care to a seriously ill family member.
Since TCI and TDI are different and distinct, you may qualify for both TDI and TCI. Note, however, that TDI requires a medical diagnosis demonstrating that you are unable to work due to pregnancy or medical complications. TDI benefits related to pregnancy are treated like any other short-term disability in Rhode Island.
This Sounds Great. How Is TCI Possible?
TCI benefits are fully employee-funded, which means that a small portion of your paychecks are withheld from all Rhode Island employees making over a certain amount, in order to pay for TCI benefits.
How Much Do I Receive Under TDI and TCI Benefits?
You are entitled to 4.6% of your average quarterly pay in the year prior to the calendar quarter just preceding your application for benefits (up to a maximum of $795 per week as of 2015). The schedule of minimum and maximum payments is updated periodically, so you should check with the RI Department of Labor for the latest information.
Temporary Caregiver Insurance Benefits: Eligibility and Other Details
We've highlighted a few key facts: You must have been paid wages in Rhode Island totaling at least $1,800 in one of the last five preceding calendar quarters or $10,800 over the course of that entire period. For more about eligibility, click here.
- If your employer pays for your maternity leave, you will still be able to receive TDI benefits at the same time. You may not, however, be working in any way.
- If you receive any other government benefits (e.g. unemployment insurance or worker's compensation benefits), you will typically not be eligible for TCI benefits at the same time.
- TCI benefits must be taken during the first year of your baby's life.
- You must give your employer at least 30 days notice that you will be taking TCI leave.
- You must take a non-working and non-paid waiting period (7 calendar days) before you can start to receive TCI benefits.
What is the Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act?
This law requires certain employers to grant you up to 13 weeks of unpaid family leave every 24 months and protects your job while you're gone. Covered employers include private employers with more than 50 employees around the world, all state employees, and all municipal government employees with 30 or more employees.
While the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which we've written about here offers similar protections, the Parental and Family Leave Act applies to more people since it applies to employers who have 50 or more global employees (as opposed to 50 employees within a 75 mile radius under the FMLA. You're eligible for the Parental and Family Leave Act if you've worked at your company for at least 12 months and averaged 30 hours of weekly work during that time. For more detail click here.
What is the Rhode Island Fair Employment Practices Act?
Adopted on June 25, 2015, Rhode Island has made it unlawful for an employer to refuse to reasonably accommodate an employee's - or prospective employee's -- limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions (including, expressing breast milk for a nursing child). The new law also makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to require an employee to take a leave of absence if another reasonable accommodation can be provided, or to deny employment opportunities based on the employer's refusal to reasonably accommodate pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The list of reasonable accommodations include:
- Providing more frequent or longer breaks
- Time off to recover from childbirth
- Acquisition or modification of equipment
- Temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position
- Job restructuring
- Light duty
- Break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk
- Assistance with manual labor
- A modified work schedule
For more information about this very law (that's still in the implementation period), read here.
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