Paid Family Leave Policy Brief

Last updated: March 15, 2024

Executive Summary

Rhode Island families and the economy need accessible, economically practical, and comprehensive paid family leave benefits that allow workers to care for loved ones during times of need. Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) is Rhode Island’s paid family leave program and currently provides up to six weeks of job-protected, partially paid leave to care for a seriously ill child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, parent-in-law, or grandparent, or for parents to bond with a newborn, adopted, or foster child. Rhode Island was once a leader in providing paid family leave to workers. Since then, a dozen states, including neighboring Massachusetts and Connecticut, have implemented much more comprehensive paid family leave programs.

This policy brief is meant to provide an overview of the history of Paid Family Leave in Rhode Island, how TCI functions (funding mechanism, application processes, and eligibility criteria etc.), and the differences between TCI and other state and federal family leave programs. This brief will also discuss the shortfalls of TCI that prevent paid family leave from being accessible and equitable for all Rhode Islanders. These shortfalls include insufficient wage replacement for low-wage workers, insufficient length of benefit period, communities of Rhode Islanders who are currently excluded from participating in the program (sole proprietors, gig workers, and members of immigrant, LGBTQ+, and foster care communities who may not have access to a qualifying family member), and lack of community awareness about the program and how to access it. Finally, the brief will outline possible legislative and administrative opportunities for the program to better achieve its fundamental purpose of ensuring it meets the needs of Rhode Island families and workers effectively. These solutions include increasing the number of weeks of paid family leave, increasing the wage replacement rate, expanding the definition of family to be more inclusive, and providing more community education about the program and its benefits.

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