2023 Rhode Island Family Leave Legislation Fact Sheet

H-5547 (Diaz) & S-0534 (Miller)

H-5781 (Kazarian) & S-0139 (Lawson) H-5990 (Giraldo) & S-0145 (Cano)

Rhode Island is a leader in providing paid family leave for families with babies, newly adopted or foster children, and seriously ill family members through the Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program.

One of only 11 state based paid leave programs, TCI provides up to six weeks of partial (about 60%) wage replacement for workers who need to take time from their jobs to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. In 2022, 8,084 workers used TCI, to either take time from work to care for a new baby (77% of claimants) or provide care for a seriously ill family member (23% of claimants). Proposals introduced in 2023 seek to address three main problems:

Rhode Island offers the shortest paid family leave in U.S. Rhode Island’s TCI provides a maximum of 6 weeks of paid family leave. This is the shortest length of any paid family leave policy in the country and significantly less than the minimum 12 weeks of leave that researchers and medical professionals recommend for new parents.

Rhode Island’s wage replacement during paid family leave is the lowest in U.S. Rhode Island’s TCI wage replacement is currently at 60%, meaning that workers only receive up to 60% of their regular pay when on leave. This wage replacement is the lowest amongst all paid family leave policies in the country. Expenses increase significantly when a new baby or child joins a family, and families need their full paycheck to cover both their regular living expenses and to meet the needs of a baby.

Access to Rhode Island’s paid family leave program is not equitable. The lowest-wage workers use the TCI program at lower rates than they contribute to it. Data shows that workers with the lowest earnings, less than $30,000 per year, made up 47% of the people who contribute to the TDI/TCI fund, but only 27% of the people who file claims to take leave. With Rhode Island’s wage replacement at 60%, these workers may be unable to afford to take the paid leave they are entitled to.

2023 Proposals

There are several bills seeking to improve Rhode Island’s paid leave program and job-protection. The Campaign urges passage of these proposals.

Improving Equity and Access: H5547/S-0534 (Diaz/Miller) would address inequities by improving wage replacement rates and allowing gig workers and self-employed workers to contribute to and benefit from this program. This legislation would:

  • Create a progressive wage replacement structure so that those with lower wages will receive a higher percentage of their wages while out on leave (90% for those earning less than

$27,000/year; and 75% for those earning between $27,000 and $54,000/year)

  • Expand TDI/TCI benefits to gig workers and self-employed workers
  • Increase the wage cap for contributions to $160,200 to fund the improvements

Increasing Weeks & Expanding Family Definition: H-5781/S-0139 (Kazarian/Lawson) would improve the program by expanding to meet national and regional (MA/CT) standards for paid leave. This legislation would:

  • Increase weeks from 6 to 12 weeks
  • Increase dependent allowance from $10/week to $20/week
  • Expand family definition to include grandchildren, siblings, and care recipients

Update the 1987 RI Parental and Family Medical Leave Act: H-5990/S-145 (Giraldo/Cano) would update Rhode Island’s law, enacted six years before the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, ensuring eligible workers can take job-protected leave to care for a new child or seriously ill family member. Paid leave or wage replacement is not required under this state law.

  • Our state law allows for up to 13 weeks of job-protected leave during any 24-month period. Federal law provides 12 weeks in any 12-month period. So, currently, eligible workers in Rhode Island can take 25 weeks over two years (13 weeks under Rhode Island law in year one and 12 weeks under federal law in year two).
  • This bill would allow parents to take 24 or 26 weeks over two years and can be taken all in one year when needed to care for new babies, new foster or adopted children, and seriously ill family members. Under federal law, eligible workers would still be entitled to 12 weeks of leave in the second year for another qualifying event (another new baby/child or seriously ill family member).
  • Research shows that at least 26 weeks of family leave after the birth of a baby improves the health and well-being of both mothers and babies.