Guest Column: Sheri L. Pizzi and Greg Vanden-Eykel
Employers across Rhode Island should begin to revise their employment manuals, policies and information brochures in preparation for new statewide employee-leave requirements going into effect on Jan. 1.
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee in July signed into law the Temporary Caregiver Insurance program (TCI), which expands the temporary-disability benefits provided to Rhode Island employees. Rhode Island joins New Jersey and California in mandating that employers provide all employees with temporary caregiver insurance, defined as wage-replacement benefits to workers who take time off from work to care for or bond with statutorily identified family members.
Under the TCI, all Rhode Island employers, regardless of the number of their employees, must provide temporary-caregiver benefits to employees who properly request leave. Employers will not bear any additional costs by providing this leave because employees will contribute to a disability-benefits pool from their paychecks, similar to the funding mechanism currently in place for the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance program.
Under the TCI, employers must provide each employee with up to four weeks of leave per benefit year, paid through the Temporary Disability Insurance benefits program, so that an employee can:
• Bond with his/her newborn child or a child newly placed for adoption or foster care with the employee or domestic partner.
• Care for a child, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, spouse or domestic partner who has a serious health condition.
In addition to providing paid leave, employers must restore the employee to his/her position, under the same terms and conditions of employment, that he/she held prior to taking temporary-caregiver leave. Among other things, this includes paying the employee’s health benefits, subject to employee contribution, while the employee takes his/her temporary caregiver leave.