National Partnership for Women & Families

Rhode Island Poised to Become Eighth State to Guarantee Workers the Right to Earn Paid Sick Days

Statement of Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families
WASHINGTON, D.C. — September 19, 2017 —

“Rhode Island workers and families got a huge boost today when legislators passed a strong paid sick days bill, positioning the state to become the eighth to guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick time. This is a victory for some 100,000 hardworking Rhode Islanders who will gain access to paid sick days – and for the state, which will become more family friendly. A large and growing body of research shows that paid sick days standards are good for businesses, workers and families, and strengthen economies and the public health.

Rhode Island’s Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act will take effect on July 1, 2018, allowing employees of employers with 18 or more workers to accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours they work. The law will be phased in, with workers able to accrue and use up to 24 hours of paid sick time in 2018, 32 hours in 2019 and 40 hours in 2020 and beyond. Employers with fewer than 18 employees will be required to allow their workers to use the same amount of unpaid sick time. We are pleased that the new law will cover time off associated with domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, public health emergencies, and mental or physical illness, and that its definition of family includes domestic partners and care recipients, as well as members of an employee’s household. We hope the legislature will strengthen the bill in the near future to provide paid sick time for workers at smaller businesses.

The National Partnership was proud to work with the Rhode Island Earned Sick Days Campaign, led by Rhode Island Working Families, and Rep. Aaron Regunberg and Sen. Maryellen Goodwin over the last two years to shape and advance this badly needed statewide paid sick days standard. When Gov. Gina Raimondo signs this bill, there will be 40 jurisdictions across the country that have adopted paid sick days laws.

In July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new data showing that, in just two years, the share of people working for private sector businesses in the United States who can earn paid sick time has increased dramatically – from 61 percent in 2015 to 68 percent today. This victory will help continue that progress. But at the same time, all workers – regardless of where they live and who they work for – deserve to be able to take paid take off to recover from illness or care for a sick child. There is an urgent imperative for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, which would establish the national paid sick days standard our country needs.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.

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