PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, joined by legislative sponsors, members of her Cabinet and community advocates, today signed legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for more than 100,000 Rhode Island employees.
"Being able to recover from an illness or care for a sick relative without having to worry about losing your job or going without pay is a basic right that Rhode Islanders deserve," said Governor Raimondo. "Treating workers with dignity and respect is imperative to creating a strong, productive workforce, but more importantly, it's the right thing to do. I want to thank every legislator, community advocate and citizen who came together to pass this legislation and protect Rhode Island's working families."
Starting in 2018, Rhode Island employees will be guaranteed three days of paid sick leave. The mandated paid sick time only applies to businesses with 18 or more employees. The number of guaranteed paid sick days will jump to four days in 2019 and five days in 2020. Rhode Island joins other states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, in codifying into law the value of work.
"This bill protects all Rhode Islanders in terms of public health and providing for their families," said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence). "It means working people - especially those in lower-wage positions that lack benefits - will finally have the ability to take care of themselves or their families when they are sick, instead of coming to work, prolonging their illness and spreading it to coworkers and the public. For too many Rhode Islanders, staying home is just not an option because they can't afford to go unpaid, and might even risk losing their jobs. Everyone gets sick from time to time, and staying home to rest and recover, or taking time to get medical help, means better health and, ultimately, better productivity for businesses too."
"After tremendous effort by countless workers, advocates and colleagues, today Rhode Island declared that every working person should be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones," said Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence). "This is a big deal. When parents send their kids to school sick, when people skip necessary care because they can't afford a day off, when workers are let go because of medical emergencies, these are matters of basic human dignity. I am proud that with this legislation, families and working people across our state can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the awful choice between one's health and one's paycheck can become a thing of the past."
"This is a huge victory," said Georgia Hollister Isman, State Director of the Rhode Island Working Families Party. "Today, Rhode Island is a fairer and more just place, one that recognizes the value of our work and the need for us to take care of ourselves and those we love."
The ceremony at Easy Entertaining followed the passage of Senate Bill No. 290 SUB B, sponsored by Senator Goodwin. Representative Regunberg sponsored the House version of the legislation.