General Assembly OKs bill to ensure sick time protection for construction workers


STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. José F. Batista to help ensure that workers in the construction industry have access to paid sick time. The legislation now goes to the governor.

Rhode Island requires all employers to allow employees to earn up to five days of sick time annually, which must be paid sick time if the employer has 18 or more employees.

However, the nature of construction industry work leaves some workers without clear protections under that law. Because construction workers often work on a project for a short time before moving onto another, some lose their accrued sick time benefits when they move to a new project.

The legislation (2021-S 0434A, 2021-H 6011A) allows multi-employer collective bargaining agreement to satisfy the requirements of Rhode Island’s sick time law, known as the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, only if that collective bargaining agreement meets the same standards, and would require that employers using multi-employer bargaining agreements pay sick time into a central trust, which then pays out the earned sick time as it is used by individual workers.

“When we passed the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act,” we did it because everybody deserves to be able to take a sick day when they need one. That is particularly true in the construction industry, which involves extremely physical work. With this bill, we’re closing a loophole that has prevented some construction workers from using the sick time they’ve earned, so they have the same protections as other Rhode Island workers,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence). 

Said Representative Batista (D-Dist. 12, Providence), “Our state’s sick time requirement was meant for everyone. This legislation is buttoning up an unintended loophole and allowing the hardworking construction industry the same protections as everyone else. Working people need to be able to take time off when they are sick or need to care for a sick family member, and I’m glad we are making sure this law is applied equitably.”



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