Beginning January 1, 2014, all Rhode Island employees regardless of their employer’s size will be eligible for up to four weeks of leave under the Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program (TCI). Employees will be eligible for leave (1) to care for an ill or injured child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or (2) to bond with a newborn or adopted child. In addition to time off, the new program mimics Rhode Island’s longstanding Temporary Disability Insurance Program (TDI), which provides wage-replacement benefits to employees unable to work due to non-workplace related injuries. TCI will be funded entirely through employee wage deductions and, as is the case with TDI, employee claims for TCI will not be chargeable against the employer.
Previously, only employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide family medical leave under state and federal law. The TCI program, however, expands caregiver leave requirements to all employers. Employees must notify their employer within 30 days of their intent to take leave under the TCI program (if practical) and provide certification from a medical professional regarding their family member’s condition and that a need for the employee’s care exists. The employee must also apply for benefits from the Director of Labor and Training. When an employee returns, he or she is entitled to reinstatement to the same or a similar position with the same pay and benefits as they had when they left. Employers already covered by state and federal family medical leave laws may require their employees to use their TCI benefits concurrently with family medical leave. Further guidance from the Department of Labor and Training on the new law is expected soon.