Rhode Island Labor Laws Guide

Ultimate Rhode Island labor law guide: minimum wage, overtime, break, leave, hiring, termination, and miscellaneous labor laws.

Rhode Island Labor Laws FAQ
Rhode Island minimum wage $12.25
Rhode Island overtime laws 1.5 times the minimum wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week
($18.375 for minimum wage workers)
Rhode Island break laws Meal break — 20 min per 6 hours and 30 min per 8 hours of consecutive work
Rhode Island Labor Laws Guide

Table of contents

Rhode Island wage laws

We’ll first deal with the most important laws and regulations regarding minimum, tipped, and subminimum wages in Rhode Island.

Regular minimum wage Tipped minimum wage Subminimum wage
$12.25 $3.89 75% or 90% of the minimum wage requirement — $9.19 or $11.03

Rhode Island minimum wage

The term minimum wage refers to the lowest hourly rate employees can be compensated for their work.

On a federal level, wages are regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — but each state has the right for the minimum wage to be higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which is the case for Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s current standard minimum wage is $12.25 and is set to increase as follows:

There are some other exemptions and exceptions to this requirement — for example, for seasonal employees.

Let’s see what else is relevant in terms of fair compensation for Rhode Island employees.

Department of Labor and Training: Forms, Resources, and Publications

Tipped minimum wage in Rhode Island

According to federal law and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), tips are certain amounts of money that are freely provided by customers to employees.

Tips are closely tied with certain professions, especially in the hospitality industry. To provide a couple of examples — you will leave tips to servers and bartenders, as a recognition for their service.

Tipped employees in Rhode Island are employees who regularly receive such gratuities — provided they make at least $30 per month in tips.

Under Rhode Island regulations, the tipped minimum wage is lower than the regular minimum wage — $3.89.

These rates, however, do not apply if an employee’s tips combined with the basis ($3.89) do not amount to the minimum wage of $12.25 per hour. In such cases, employers are required to make up the difference in wages.

There’s a common practice related to tips — tip pooling (or tip sharing), and Rhode Island employers can require employees to participate in tip pools.

For an employer to require tip pooling, the following conditions must be met, per the new tip protection statute from June 28, 2022:

The practice refers to all tipped employees sharing a portion of their tips in order for a part to be distributed to employees who usually don’t receive tips, such as:

Additionally, even if an employer doesn’t require tip pooling, employees can enter into agreements about this practice among themselves.

It is important to mention that tip credits are illegal. Tip credits refer to a way for employers to direct tips as a part of an employee’s hourly minimum wage. Since this practice is illegal, the meaning is — tips can’t be counted as a part of employees’ hourly pay.

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Exceptions to the minimum wage in Rhode Island

Certain employment or personal statuses are exempt from the law regarding minimum wage in Rhode Island. For example — operators of taxicabs.

Let us share the rest of the instances where minimum wage requirements don’t apply, so you can check out who the exemptions are:

Subminimum wage in Rhode Island

Minimum wage for certain categories of workers — such as minors under 16 years of age in Rhode Island — is commonly known as the subminimum wage. The hourly rate is also regulated by the rule of law.

The term “subminimum” already implies that employers are allowed to pay such employees a lower hourly wage.

In Rhode Island, there are only 2 categories of employees who can be paid at a lower rate:

Employers must compensate full-time students under 19 years of age at a rate of at least 90% of the standard minimum wage (i.e. $11.03). They must also compensate minors under 16 years of age at a rate of at least 75% of the standard minimum wage (i.e. $9.19).

Apart from those 2 categories of employees, everyone else is entitled to at least the standard minimum wage.

Therefore, unlike in many other states, employees who are apprentices and trainees are also entitled to at least the standard minimum hourly rate of $12.25.

Rhode Island payment laws

When it comes to pay frequency in Rhode Island, employers are required by law to provide regular compensation for their employees either weekly or semi-monthly.

This means that the maximum of two weeks must be considered a payroll period.

Employers can choose the manner of wage payments and pay their employees in the following ways:

Deductions from wages are allowed only if legally required (e.g. taxes), or if an employee agrees in writing (e.g. to use for loans, advances, and contributions to various plans, such as insurance and pension).

Each such paycheck must include both the amount and the purpose of the deductions.

If an employer wants to change the schedule of paydays, they must post a notice in a prominent location, or notify their employees at least 3 paydays in advance.

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Rhode Island overtime laws

Regulations established by the Fair Labor Standards Act define a working week as any seven consecutive working days. During this period, employees who work up to 40 hours are compensated for their work at least at an hourly rate of a minimum wage, as defined by the Rhode Island constitution.

Any number of hours exceeding 40 counts as overtime and must be compensated at a higher hourly rate.

Non-exempt employees who do exceed that number are entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate.

Meaning — this number currently translates to $18.375 for minimum wage workers.

Some occupations and conditions can overrule this 1.5 rate requirement.

We’ll explain everything in the following sections — so read on and check out who is eligible for overtime compensation in Rhode Island, and who is not.

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Overtime exceptions and exemptions for white-collar employees in Rhode Island

Following the federal requirements on overtime exemptions, 4 main categories of employees are not protected by the law, as they fit into the larger category of white-collar occupations.

When it comes to overtime, provided they earn at least $684 per week, white-collar employees do not have to be paid at a 1.5 rate for working over 40 hours.

White-collar employees are the ones working in any of the following categories:

  1. Administration — people who perform non-manual work related to business operations, management policies, or administrative training (provided that no more than 20% of their time is spent on activities unrelated to their position) — this category includes accountants, HR team members, market research analysts, etc.
  2. Executives — business, general, and executive managers who directly manage at least 2 employees.
  3. Professionals — people whose position calls for advanced knowledge and extensive education, such as software analysts or software engineers (the category also includes artists, certified teachers, and other creative work requiring talent, invention, or imagination).
  4. Outside salespeople— outside sales representatives who visit potential and existing customers at their premises.

Rhode Island overtime restrictions for specific occupations

Besides the federal government exemptions, the state enforces overtime restrictions on some other, more specific occupations.

So, overtime and minimum wage exemptions overlap — but there are additional occupations that are exempt from overtime only.

Here’s the full list:

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Labor Standards FAQ

Rhode Island break laws

Employers in Rhode Island are legally required to provide meal breaks to all their employees whose shifts last over 6 hours — 20 or 30 minutes of paid meal break.

The number of breaks depends on the length of their shift — and goes as listed.

Rhode Island meal breaks:

Additionally, employers can choose to offer rest breaks of 10 minutes, which must be compensated for.

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There is an additional required type of break in Rhode Island — but it applies only to still breastfeeding mothers. It is called a lactating break, and we will elaborate on it in the following section.

Breastfeeding laws in Rhode Island

All working mothers who gave birth recently and are still lactating and breastfeeding are entitled to take a break for this purpose.

This type of break can be either paid or unpaid, as predetermined by the company regulations and policy.

In Rhode Island, the same as on a federal level, employers are obligated to provide adequate conditions for such female employees.

By “adequate conditions”, the law refers to employers providing a room or location with a door that can’t be a bathroom stall.

Employers must provide such a location in the nearest possible proximity to the working environment.

Rhode Island leave requirements

Now, let’s take a look into what employers in Rhode Island are entitled to do if an employee asks for a leave of absence from work.

The federal law clearly regulates which types of leave employers are required to provide, with no negative consequences for an employee, upon their return to work.

There are 2 broad categories of leave of absence — required and non-required, according to the US Department of Labor.

However, the types of leave included in the 2 categories are not predetermined, as each state regulates them differently.

Let’s see how Rhode Island regulates leaves of absence.

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Rhode Island required leave

There are instances where an employee is entitled to take a leave of absence, without being punished in any way upon their return to work.

While employers do have to offer and provide some types of required leave to all their employees, they don’t have to compensate them for that period. But, some company policies will offer paid required leave.

Here’s the list of 9 types of leave that employers in Rhode Island are required to offer by law:

Sick leave

Rhode Island employers with at least 18 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave.

The law also enables employers to offer their employees another option — 1 hour of paid sick leave per 35 hours worked.

Family and medical leave

This is a type of leave that all employers in the state of Rhode Island must provide their employees with.

Eligibility for this type of leave is regulated by the Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA.

The FMLA states that all employees are eligible to use 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected work absence in a one-year period, for many household and medicinal-related reasons.

The reasons are:

In Rhode Island, apart from immediate family members, the care-related reasons are extended to their mother-in-law and father-in-law.

To be eligible, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year and at least 1,250 work hours. Note that this is applicable for employers with over 50 employees only.

Additionally, in an effort to protect the families of the Armed Services, Congress amended the FMLA in 2008.

Since then, employers have also been required to provide up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave if an employee needs to take care of a member of the Armed Forces with a serious health condition, injury, or undergoing medical treatment or therapy. This is applicable only if said member is an employee’s spouse, parent, child, or next of kin.

Holiday leave

In Rhode Island, employees who work on Sundays and legal holidays are entitled to 1.5 of their regular hourly rate. An employee can refuse to work on such days, without being penalized in any way.

Here’s the list of legal holidays in the state:

Jury duty leave

If an employee in Rhode Island is summoned to perform jury duty, the employer must allow them to be absent from work during that time.

Employers mustn’t require employees to use their sick, vacation, or any other type of leave for this reason.

The law also states employers can’t penalize or discipline their employees in any way for the acceptance of jury duty — but they don’t have to compensate their employees for this period.

Witness leave

The law requires employers to provide leave for all their employees who are summoned to be a witness in any court.

Employers are not required to compensate their employees for the period of absence for this reason.

School leave

When it comes to employees who are parents or guardians, there’s another type of required leave in Rhode Island.

It concerns the attendance of any school-related activities and is limited to 10 hours in a 12-month period.

For leave to be approved, the procedure requires that employees submit a request at least 24 hours in advance.

The employer can choose whether school leave time will be paid or unpaid.

Crime victim leave

For employees who are victims of a crime, employers with at least 50 employees are required to offer paid or unpaid leave for participating in, preparing for, and attending proceedings related to the crime.

Rhode Island employers are allowed to require their employees to use their sick or vacation leave for this purpose.

Military leave

This type of leave is regulated on a federal level, by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act.

The act states that all employees in the US must be granted a leave of absence to serve in one of the following:

Upon the employee’s return to work, they must be entitled to the same pay increases and other benefits as if they were present at work the whole time.

Military family leave

Employees whose spouse or child is called to military service lasting at least 30 days are eligible for this type of leave.

Military family leave is unpaid and applies only to employers with at least 15 employees.

The length of this leave depends on the total number of employees:

Rhode Island non-required leave

There are 3 categories of leave that, by Rhode Island state laws, employers are not required to offer to their employees.

Said categories are:

It is important to mention that the law also doesn’t prohibit or restrict these types of leave.

If an employer chooses to offer any or all, the exact terms need to be stated in the signed contract of employment.

Vacation leave

Rhode Island employers are not required to offer any paid or unpaid time for vacations.

If an employer establishes a vacation policy, they must comply with all the conditions.

Voting leave

Rhode Island employers are not required to offer voting leave to any of their employees.

If an employer offers a voting leave in their company policy, the exact terms must be stated in the contract of employment.

Bereavement leave

Rhode Island employers are not required to offer bereavement leave to any of their employees.

If an employer offers a bereavement leave in their company policy, the exact terms must be stated in the contract of employment.

Child labor laws in Rhode Island

The term “minors'' refers to young people, aged under 18. The main purpose of both federal and Rhode Island child labor laws is to prevent the exploitation of minors. Additionally, to help minors put education first — their employment is only meant to enhance their academic and life experience.

Some of the most relevant limitations regarding the employment of minors can be seen in the following categories:

While different rules and regulations apply to different age groups, there is still one thing applicable to all age groups — minors are forbidden from working in any hazardous positions, according to the federal law.

Next, let’s take a look at some rules and regulations stated in the Rhode Island Child Labor Laws.

Specific labor laws for minors in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, child labor laws enforce specific rules for different age groups.

There’s another relevant thing to mention. To employ minors, employers must submit an Intention to employ minor form, along with a minor’s permit to work or certificate of age — depending on the minor’s age.

For the employment of minors, the following rules apply.

The maximum number of work time for minors under 16 years of age — provided that school is not in session — is:

When school is in session, the restrictions regarding the maximum number of work hours for minors under 16 are:

For ages 16 and 17, Rhode Island has restrictions on maximum working hours only for the period when school is in session, as follows:

Nightwork restrictions go as follows:

For ages 16 and 17, Rhode Island has no restrictions on nightwork during school vacations, or if said minor isn’t attending school.

All minors must have at least an 8-hour gap between their shifts.

Rhode Island Intention to employ minor form

Prohibited occupations for minors on a federal level

Apart from regulations restricting the hours of work, certain occupations are strictly prohibited for minors.

In compliance with federal restrictions, minors are forbidden from working in any and all occupations that are declared hazardous.

Here are some examples of hazardous occupations:

Additional prohibited occupations for minors in Rhode Island

For minors in Rhode Island, there are additional restrictions — so here’s the full list of state-specific prohibited occupations and conditions of employment:

There are some additional restrictions for minors under 16 years of age, such as:

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: Child Labor Section

Termination laws in Rhode Island

Like the majority of other states in the US, Rhode Island also implements an “employment-at-will” doctrine and policy.

What does that mean for both employers and employees?

There are only 2 exceptions in terms of employers’ reasons for termination:

Final paycheck in Rhode Island

Employers in Rhode Island are legally required to provide a final paycheck — including all the wages and benefits — to everyone whose employment was terminated.

According to the Rhode Island labor wage laws, final paychecks for employees whose employment was terminated for any reason must be provided by the next regularly scheduled payday.

There are several exceptions to the rule, when employers are required to provide the final paycheck to their terminated employees within 24 hours:

Rhode Island non-payment of wages complaint form

Discrimination laws in Rhode Island

According to federal law, discrimination in the workplace is not only unethical but also illegal.

There are many bases of discrimination in the workplace that are forbidden on a federal scale — but the state of Rhode Island has added additional ones.

So, here’s the full list of prohibited bases for workplace discrimination, including both federal and Rhode Island-specific ones:

Filing a discrimination claim in Rhode Island

Occupational safety in Rhode Island

All employees must have a safe and healthy working environment.

The specific conditions for such an environment are regulated by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), passed by Congress in 1970.

Rhode Island doesn’t have a specific state plan — therefore, federal OSHA applies.

OSHA states that employers are required to:

Employers are required to provide several things to ensure workplace safety to their employees:

The main goal of OSHA is — to reduce and further try to eliminate the possibility of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Besides providing necessary training and education for employees, employers must create optimal working conditions — free from any recognized hazards that may cause harm.

Moreover, it is obligatory to conduct safety and health research regularly, as well as undertake safety demonstrations concerning health matters.

Rhode Island OSHA is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, which is responsible for regulating the workplace safety of all workers.

The only 2 categories excluded from the OSHA regulations are:

The Department of Health has compliance officers who are in charge of implementing and enforcing federal OSHA standards in Rhode Island.

Apart from scheduled inspections that compliance officers regularly conduct, they are allowed to carry out inspections without any notice, at any given time.

Unscheduled inspections can be a result of:

OSHA Offices in Rhode Island

Miscellaneous Rhode Island labor laws

The above-listed sections were concerned with the most important and common categories of labor laws relevant in Rhode Island.

Now, we’ll mention several additional laws that may be applicable to your situation.

Here’s what else is regulated by the rule of law in Rhode Island:

Whistleblower protection laws

The main purpose of this set of laws is to ensure that employees can exercise all of their legal rights without negative repercussions as a result.

The term “whistleblower” refers to employees who have inside knowledge of an illegal practice or a safety hazard in the workplace. They must be able to report it in good faith and continue being employed.

Here’s the list of reasons based on which employees can’t be discriminated against or discharged:

COBRA laws

COBRA is a law that operates on a federal level — so let’s start this section by explaining what the acronym means. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows employees to retain health care insurance and benefits after the termination of employment.

Federal regulations also state the law can be applied to employers with over 20 employees. So, many states have implemented their own regulations, also known as “mini-COBRAs” to cover businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

The state of Rhode Island does have a mini-COBRA law, applicable to businesses that employ fewer than 20 employees. Their health coverage is extended for up to 18 months after the employment termination date.

Background check laws

Background checks are allowed for all employers (but not required for all occupations) and are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

This act regulates the collection, accuracy, and distribution of information in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — all employers must ensure they adhere to those requirements.

Here’s the full list of positions that do require background checks in Rhode Island:

Credit and investigative check laws

In the state of Rhode Island, employers are allowed to conduct credit and investigative checks for employment purposes — but they must notify applicants beforehand.

If an applicant is rejected due to information in the credit report, employers must:

Employers who conduct credit and investigative checks must carefully follow the procedures stated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Arrest and conviction check laws

When it comes to arrest and conviction checks, Rhode Island was the fourth state to implement the law “Ban the Box”. According to the law, employers are forbidden from asking about the criminal records of their applicants.

The initial application mustn't include any questions about the criminal history of a potential employee — but employers are allowed to make an inquiry of this type during the interview process.

Employers are not allowed to make an inquiry about arrests, but only about convictions.

Additionally, if an applicant’s records have been expunged, they are allowed to deny having a criminal history.

Drug and alcohol testing laws

Rhode Island employers are allowed to test both their applicants and employees for drug and alcohol — provided they comply with all regulations the state enforces.

Said regulations differ for the 2 categories, so here’s what applies.

Employers who want to test applicants:

Employers who want to test employees:

Social media laws

Rhode Island employers are prohibited from asking their employees or applicants to disclose information about their personal social media accounts.

In Rhode Island, it’s illegal for an employer to:

Employee monitoring laws

Employers are forbidden to record their employees by all electronic surveillance devices in personal areas of the workplace or listen to their employees’ wire communications.

Personal areas include bathrooms, lounges, and locker rooms, or any other place designated for changing clothes.

The state of Rhode Island also regulates all tracking devices — such as GPS in a motor vehicle — unless all parties agree to it in writing.

Cafeteria insurance

Employers with at least 25 employees working for 6 months of the year must offer their employees a cafeteria-style health insurance plan.

The name derives from the comparison of different employees choosing different benefits and customers choosing a combination of different items in a cafeteria.

This type of insurance plans enables employees to pay group health insurance and additional insurance premiums with tax-free dollars, so the payroll taxes are significantly lower.

Record-keeping laws

Keeping the records of all their employees is an obligation for all Rhode Island employers. They must do so for the length of 3 years.

So, what types and categories of information should such records consist of?

Here’s the full list:

There are some other record-keeping laws that are applicable to specific situations.

So, here’s what else employers ought to keep on record, and for how long:


We hope this Rhode Island labor law guide has been helpful. We advise you to make sure you’ve paid attention to the links we’ve provided, as most of them will lead you to the official government websites and other relevant information.

Please note that this guide was written in Q3 2022, so any changes in the labor laws that were included later than that may not be included in this Rhode Island labor laws guide.

We strongly advise you to consult with the appropriate institutions and/or certified representatives before acting on any legal matters.

Clockify is not responsible for any losses or risks incurred, should this guide be used without further guidance from legal or tax advisors.

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