Frequently Asked Questions
about Labor Standards
on each question to show the answer
- 1. I was terminated from my job and feel it was unjust. What can you do for me?
- The Division of Labor Standards may take claims for unjust terminations when an employee is taking advantage of the RI Parental and Family Medical Act. If the former employee feels he/she is the victim of discrimination, they are encouraged to contact the RI Commission for Human Rights at (401) 222-2661.
- 2. How is overtime to be paid? What are the exceptions?
- Hours worked in excess of 40 per week are to be paid at time and one-half the worker's regular rate of pay.
Any employee of a summer camp open no more than six months of the year, police officers, firefighters and rescue service personnel employed by the cities and towns, employees of the state or political subdivisions of the state who elect through collective bargaining or other agreement or understanding to receive compensatory time off equal to one and one-half times the hours worked over 40; employees employed in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act receiving a salary of at least $200 per week (the salary divided by the number of hours worked must not violate the applicable minimum wage), salaried employee of a nonprofit national voluntary health agency who may elect compensatory time off for the hours worked in excess of 40; employees including drivers, driver's helpers, mechanics and loaders of any motor carrier, including private carriers, with respect to whom the U.S. Secretary of Transportation has power to establish qualifications and maximum hours of service; employee employed as a salesperson or partsperson or mechanic primarily engaged in the sale and/or servicing of automobiles, trucks or farm implements and is employed by a non-manufacturing employer primarily engaged in the business of selling vehicles or farm implements, provided that the earnings exceed an amount equal to the employee's basis contractual hourly rate of pay, times the number of hours actually worked, plus the employee's basic contractual hourly rate of pay, times one-half the number of hours actually worked in excess of 40 hours per week.
- 3. What is the Minimum Wage? What are the exceptions?
- As of January 1, 2007, the minimum wage is $7.40 per hour. Exemptions include minors, 14-15 years of age working 24 hours or less. They may be paid 75% of the minimum wage = $5.55 per hour. If a minor works in excess of 24 hours, all hours must be paid at the minimum wage. For more information on the minimum wage, including a link to the law, please visit our minimum wage web page.
Other exemptions: Individuals working in or about a private home; traveling salespersons or outside salespersons; individuals employed by his/her son, daughter, spouse and services performed by a child under the age of 21 in the employ of his/her mother or father; persons employed between May 1 and October 1 in a resort establishment which regularly serves meals to the general public and which is open for business not more than six months a year; and persons employed by an organized camp which does not operate for more than seven months in any calendar year.
- 4. What is the minimum wage for wait staff?
- Wait staff must be paid at least $2.89 per hour and the amount of tips received must bring this amount to $7.40 as of January 1, 2007, for all hours worked.
- 5. What types of records of hours must be kept and who is exempt?
- An employer must keep an accurate daily and weekly (time in and out) record for all employees. No one, including employees paid on a salary basis, is exempt from this law. These records, along with payroll records, must be kept for at least three years.
- 6. What is the law regarding lunches and breaks?
- A twenty-minute meal period must be given during a six-hour shift, and a thirty-minute meal period must be given during an eight-hour shift. This does not include healthcare facilities or companies employing less than three employees at one site during a shift.
- 7. What are the legal holidays?
- The legal holidays can be found here. If a holiday falls on a Sunday, the day following is observed as the legal holiday.
- 8. I work for a manufacturer. On Sundays, should I be paid overtime? Exemptions?
- Hourly-paid employees must receive time and one-half the normal hourly rate of pay.
Exemptions include employees working in agriculture or maritime trades, physicians, dentists, attorneys or accountants, health care or maintenance workers (hospitals, nursing homes, etc), restaurants, hotels, motels, summer camps, resorts or other recreational facilities (except health clubs), salaried employees in a bona fide executive, professional or administrative capacity, telephonic delivery of customer services, sales operations and ancillary services related thereto, except for employment in the telecommunications industries which are part of any collective bargaining agreement or employment contract.
- 9. If I work more than 40 hours in a week and 8 hours on a holiday, how am I to be paid?
- If you work in non-retail, the hours in excess of forty are to be paid at time and one-half, the holiday is to be paid at time and one-half and the remainder is to be paid straight time. Example: Total hours 60 and eight of these hours were worked on a holiday. Extract the overtime hours from the total = 20, these hours are to be paid at time and one-half. Extract the eight from the remaining forty = 32. Eight hours are to be paid at time and one-half premium pay for working the holiday and 32 hours are straight time.
If you work in retail, the holiday hours are extracted first and paid at time and one-half. If there are hours over 40 in the balance, these hours are to be paid at time and one-half also. Example: Same as above, extract the holiday hours from the total hours and the balance is 52. The eight hours are to be paid at time and one-half premium pay. Because there are hours in excess of forty in the balance, these 12 hours must be paid at time and one-half for the overtime. The balance of 40 is paid at straight time. The city/town councils shall grant licenses for the sale by retail establishment at any places in that town or city designated in those licenses on Sundays.
- 10. If I am paid hourly, should I be paid weekly?
- Yes. Exemptions are employees of the state and its political subdivisions and of religious, literary or charitable corporations and those employees whose compensation is fixed at a bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly or yearly rate, the latter being employees paid a salary.
- 11. How am I to be paid, and how is a payday established?
- Every employer must establish a regular payday on which wages shall be paid in full in lawful money of the United States, or checks on banks convertible into cash on demand. Every payday shall fall within nine (9) days of the end of a payroll period. Every employee shall be notified in writing, or by posted notice that may be readily seen, of a change in the scheduled payday at least three (3) paydays in advance of a scheduled change.
- 12. Is it a law that I should be receiving a pay stub?
- On every regular payday, the employer shall furnish to any employee a statement of the hours worked during the applicable pay period and a record of all deductions made from that employee's gross earnings with an explanation of the basis or reason for such deductions.
- 13. What is the vacation law?
- Whenever an employee is separated from the payroll of an employer, after completing at least one (1) year of service, any vacation pay accrued by collective bargaining, company policy or other agreement between employer and employee shall become wages and payable in full or on a prorated basis with all other due wages on the next regular payday for the employee.
- 14. I work on a cash register and at times the drawer is short. Can the employer deduct the shortage from my pay?
- An employer may not deduct for shortages, damages, rent, uniforms or any other reason (except applicable taxes). An employer may make a deduction for loans or advances against future earnings if evidenced by a statement in writing, signed by the employee, with the amount to be deducted each pay period. The statement may read "balance due upon separation."
- 15. I was promised a bonus from my employer, but he has not paid it yet. Can you help me?
- No. The payment of any bonus in addition to the payment of wages will not be subject to the provision of this chapter of the law.
- 16. What hours can 16-17 year old minors work and how many hours?
- Not before 6:00 am or later than 11:30 pm (if no classes are scheduled on the following day, minors may be employed until 1:30 am) If the minor is not a student, there is no curfew. Maximum hours in Rhode Island is 9 hours per day (9 3/5 hours per day in a 5-day work week), 48 hours per week.
- 17. What hours can 14-15 year old minors work and how many total hours?
- Not before 6:00 am or later than 7:00 pm (except 9:00 pm during school vacations). Federal law is not before 7:00 am or later than 7:00 pm (except 9:00 pm from June 1 through Labor Day). Maximum hours in Rhode Island is 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week. Federal is 3 hours per day (school day), 8 hours per non-school day, 18 hours per week (school week) and 40 hours per non-school week.
- 18. What kind of work can a 14-15 year old do? What kind of work is not permitted?
- Permitted but not limited to: Office and clerical (including office machines), cashier, bagger, price marking, landscaping (no power-driven machines), cleaning, waiting tables, bussing tables, dishwashing.
Not permitted but not limited to: Manufacturing, mining, processing food or materials, laundry (washers/dryers), warehouse, construction, freezers, meat coolers, loading and unloading from trucks, railroad cars or conveyors, jewelry processing (by hand, or machine), bakeries (except strictly counter help), on any dock (public or private), dispensing gasoline or oil, any work in a car wash. Visit the Child Labor web page for more information
- 19. Can a person process jewelry in their home? Where can jewelry work be performed?
- No, jewelry homework is prohibited. Performing jewelry homework violates the minimum wage, overtime, records of hours, payment of wages and child labor laws. Also some materials used in certain processes may be hazardous to a person's health. Upon receiving a complaint, an examiner will visit the home and confiscate the work being processed. The work is then returned to its rightful owner and the case is forwarded to the Attorney General for prosecution (both the homeworker(s) and person(s) giving out the homework).
The Labor Standards Unit registers contract shops and issues contract shop permits. The shop must exist separate and apart from a home, where zoning permits, have adequate heat, lighting and toilet facilities. The application fee is $120.00. An examiner will inspect the shop to ensure compliance. Permits expire September 30th of each year.
- 20. What is the Parental and Family Leave Act?
- The RI Parental and Family Medical Leave Act is thirteen consecutive weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, placement of an adopted child sixteen years of age or younger, or a serious illness or injury, impairment or condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, nursing home or hospice; or outpatient care requiring continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.
Family member means parent, spouse, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, or the employee him/herself.
Requirement: Must have been employed for 12 consecutive months, gives employer written 30-days notice (unless prevented by medical emergency), company must employ 50 or more employees.
Prior to commencement of parental or family leave, the employee shall pay to the employer a sum equal to the premium required to maintain the employee's health benefits during the period of leave. The employer shall return such payment to the employee within ten (10) days following the employee's return to employment.
Upon expiration of such leave, the employee is entitled to be restored by the employer to the position held when the leave commenced or to a position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.