The Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA) is urging its members to contact state legislators to oppose the proposed paid leave bill under review. Five states in the country have approved such a bill, including Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. According to the RIHA, the Rhode Island bill is more generous than any of the five other states.
The Rhode Island bill would require employers to provide paid sick leave, accumulating at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 56 hours annually. The sick and safety leave could be used for medical reasons, preventative medical care and care of a family member. An employer is prohibited from asking any questions about the nature of an illness. If an employee is absent for three consecutive days, any employer can require the employee to submit written documentation to prove the reason for the absence.
According to the RIHA, the bill contains 14 pages of restrictions on businesses when it comes to paid sick time off.
The RIHA says, “The restaurant industry is specifically intended to be flexible, allowing for shift change at a moment’s notice for a number of reasons, including sickness and child care. To be clear, the restaurant industry, more than any other, encourages and protects sick employees from coming to work. Under regulations from the Rhode Island Department of Health, we are proactive with employees about sharing health information, to keep employees and patrons safe and healthy. Employers need to be able to ask questions to determine if the symptoms are potentially a food safety issue. This bill makes such openness illegal. It is unproven and a costly proposition.”