Nobody ever said running a business was a walk in the park. As an employer, you have a lot of balls in the air, and compliance is just one of them. A really, really important one that, if dropped, could cost you a whole lot of money.
In addition to federal regulations, each state has their own share of employment related laws that business owners need to be aware of. Here, we’re highlighting some of these key state-specific requirements and laws, and offering guidance to help you keep up.
Bear in mind, this list is not comprehensive, and there may be local or industry-specific employment requirements that your business needs to comply with. It’s best to consult with counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, as Justworks does not provide legal advice.
Payroll Tax Accounts
Because Justworks reports state unemployment taxes on behalf of customers who utilize Justworks’ PEO services, Justworks may need to collect account information such as your account number and current rate. You can read more about it here: State Unemployment Insurance.
Recruiting & Hiring Practices
Salary History Ban
Rhode Island’s Pay Equity Act prohibits employers from using a job applicant’s wage history information prior to an offer of employment. The following is generally prohibited:
- Employer inquiries into an applicant’s wage history
- Employer reliance on the wage history of an applicant:
- when deciding whether to consider the applicant for employment; or
- in determining the wages the applicant will be paid upon hire
- Employers requiring an applicant’s prior wages satisfy a minimum or maximum criteria as a condition of employment
However, the Pay Equity Act does allow employers to consider an applicant’s wage history after an initial offer of employment is made for the purpose of increasing the amount of wages initially offered to the applicant. In such instances, the applicant must have voluntarily provided their wage history without prompting from the employer.
In addition, a wage range for the position must be provided to an applicant, upon request.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Pay Equity Act
Rhode Island's Fair Employment Practices law states that prior to the first interview, employers are prohibited from asking in a job application whether a job applicant has ever been arrested, charged with, or convicted of any crime. Employers also may not pose the question verbally to job applicants prior to a job interview.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Fair Employment Practices
When classifying workers as employees or independent contractors, there are a few things to consider, including the different tests that apply under different federal and state employment laws, and potential penalties and other liabilities for misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Certain state laws apply tests that are more stringent than the guidance provided by federal agencies, such as the IRS and Department of Labor, to apply in conjunction with federal laws. For example, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in felony criminal charges, under Rhode Island law.
You can read our general Help Center article on contractors, and view information on how to determine if someone is a contractor or employee in Rhode Island in the relevant section at the link below.
Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training: Independent Contractors
Minimum Wage & Overtime
Rhode Island employers can find the most up-to-date minimum wage requirements and other wage payment laws (e.g. frequency, permissible deductions, etc.) on the website of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Workforce Regulation and Safety.
Employees must be paid premium pay of at least one and one-half times their normal rate of pay for any work performed on Sundays and holidays, with some exceptions. In some industries, this premium pay may be required in addition to overtime pay for more than 40 hours in a work week.
Mineral*: Rhode Island Holidays
Meal and Rest Laws
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Labor Standards FAQ
Pregnancy & Lactation Accommodation Laws
Reasonable accommodations could potentially include additional or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, job restructuring, light duty, unpaid break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules.
An employer also must post a pregnancy accommodation notice in the workplace, provide such notice to all newly hired employees, and provide the notice within ten days of an employee notifying the employer of a pregnancy.
Rhode Island State Law: Pregnancy Accommodation
Rhode Island State Law: Nursing Working Mothers
Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights:: Pregnancy Accommodation Notice
Health Insurance Mandates
Rhode Island's health insurance mandate took effect January 1, 2020. The mandate is a requirement that all Rhode Islanders (except those who are specifically exempt under the law) have "qualifying health coverage" beginning January 1, 2020.
Sources of "qualifying health coverage" include coverage through an employer; coverage purchased directly from a health insurance carrier; Medicare; Medicaid; or a health plan purchased through HealthSource RI, the state’s health exchange.
Failure to have coverage during the tax year may result in a Rhode Island personal income tax penalty during tax filing season.
Rhode Island Division of Taxation: Health Insurance Mandate
Under Rhode Island’s Wave to Work commuter transit benefits program, employers can arrange for their employees to use the state’s transportation system. Employers can choose to subsidize part or all of their employees’ public transportation costs.
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority: Wave to Work Program
Paid Sick Leave
Under Rhode Island’s paid sick leave law, employers must provide sick leave for their employees, either through accrual or a grant of a number of hours, and are required to display, for employees, a notice that details employee rights under the law.
Under Rhode Island’s Sick and Safe Leave law, most employees who perform work primarily in Rhode Island for private and nonprofit employers are entitled to accrue paid time off that can be used for the sick and safe purposes described by the law. Employers must either:
- Implement and maintain a policy that allows a full-time employee, working full-time hours, to accrue at least 40 hours of paid sick/safe leave time during a calendar year;
- Allow employees to accrue at least one (1) hour of paid sick leave per thirty-five (35) hours worked, or;
- Grant the maximum accrual hours (40 hours per calendar year) upfront.
Help Center: Rhode Island Sick and Safe Leave
Employers are not required to provide paid vacation time. However, if an employer does provide vacation time, they are required to pay out any remaining accrued vacation pay upon separation if the employee worked for them for at least one year.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Labor Standards FAQ
Parental and Family Medical Leave Act
Under the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act, employers with 50 or more employees must grant an unpaid leave of absence of 13 consecutive weeks in any two (2) calendar years to full-time employees who have been employed for 12 consecutive months and who work an average of 30 or more hours per week for the purposes of bonding with a new child, for one’s own serious illness, or to care for a family member with a serious illness.
Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act: Notice to Employees
Statutory Disability and Family Leave
Rhode Island’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) and Temporary Caregiver Insurance are partial wage-replacement programs for Rhode Island workers who qualify. Temporary Caregiver Insurance requires job protection for up to six weeks.
Harassment & Discrimination
In addition to protections under Federal law, Rhode Island law prohibits employment discrimination based on membership in any protected class by employers covered under Rhode Island's anti-discrimination laws.
Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Harassment Policy Requirements
Every Rhode Island employer that employs fifty (50) or more employees must adopt and post a policy against sexual harassment. Every covered employer must:
- Adopt a policy against sexual harassment that includes:
- A statement that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful;
- A statement that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of a complaint of sexual harassment;
- A description and examples of sexual harassment;
- A statement of the range of consequences for employees who are found to have committed sexual harassment;
- A description of the process for filing internal complaints about sexual harassment and the work addresses and telephone numbers of the person or persons to whom complaints should be made; and
- The identity of the appropriate state and federal employment discrimination enforcement agencies, and directions as to how to contact those agencies.
Employers in Rhode Island are required to follow up, in writing, with employees who complain about harassment concerning the outcome of any investigation into their complaint and a general description of any action taken in resolution of the complaint. Personnel information is not required to be disclosed in such a communication.
Rhode Island employers should familiarize themselves with specific compliance issues and certain key documents for separating employees.
Under Rhode Island law, all employers must provide notice to separating employees of the availability of unemployment compensation at the time of the employee’s separation from employment.
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Required Information and Sample Notice
Final Wage Payment Requirements
In Rhode Island, final wages may be issued no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.
If the employer closes, merges, or relocates the business out of state, final paychecks are due to employees within twenty-four (24) hours.
Rhode Island State Law: Payment of Wages
Mineral*: Rhode Island Separation
Vacation Payout Requirements
An employee who has completed at least one (1) year of service is required to be paid accrued and unused vacation (but not personal time or sick leave) upon separation no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.
Rhode Island State Law: Payment of Wages
Business Closings and Layoffs
The Federal WARN Act imposes certain notices and other obligations on covered businesses before conducting large-scale business closures, layoffs, or relocations. For more information, visit the link below.
U.S. Department of Labor: Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Advisor
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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.