Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program
Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance program (TCI) took effect in 2014. The TCI program provides up to four weeks of wage replacement benefits to employees who need to take time off from work to bond with a new child or to care for a seriously ill child, spouse or family member.
This document is intended to answer any questions small employers might have about Rhode Island’s TCI program and its effects on small business owners and their workers.
What is Temporary Caregiver Insurance?
- The TCI program is an extension of the state’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program, which provides income support to individuals who are out of work because of a non-work related illness or injury. Rhode Island was the first state to establish a Temporary Disability Insurance program in 1942.
- The TCI program enables Rhode Island workers to take up to four weeks of paid time away from work within a 12-month period in order to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child. Family members include children, spouses, domestic partners, parents, parents-in-law or grandparents. A parent can take leave to bond with a newborn, newly adopted child or foster child.
Which employers are covered by the law?
- Temporary Caregiver Insurance applies to all employers, regardless of size. While the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical and Leave Act (RIPFMLA) apply to employers with 50 or more employees, the new Temporary Caregiver Insurance law applies to all Rhode Island employers. If an employee is eligible for leave under both the FMLA/RIPFMLA and the Temporary Caregiver Insurance law, the leaves may run concurrently.
Will employers have to pay employees’ salaries while they’re on leave?
- No. The TCI program, administered by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Temporary Disability Insurance Division, is financed entirely by employee payroll deductions. Employers do not have to pay employees’ salaries while they are on leave. Many small businesses that previously could not afford to offer paid leave to their employees can now offer the benefit through the TCI program. This helps small businesses compete for the best employees, and gives employers peace of mind that they are doing what’s best for their workers. Employers that already offer paid family leave can expect to see cost savings.
- Rhode Island workers pay a small tax on income to finance the TCI/TDI program. The current withholding rate in 1.2% of a worker’s first $68,100 in earnings. Weekly TCI benefits total approximately 60% of an employee’s weekly wage, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $817.
What are an employer’s obligations under the Temporary Caregiver Insurance program?
- Under TCI, employees who take leave are guaranteed job protection and continuation of health insurance coverage. Employers must hold the employee’s position until he or she returns to work, or must offer a comparable position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions. Employers are also obligated to continue the employee’s health coverage while they are on leave.
- Employers are not responsible for paying their employees when they are on leave through TCI—partial wage replacement during leave is funded entirely by employee payroll deductions. Employers must continue to deduct payments for Temporary Disability Insurance in the way they do now.
How does Temporary Caregiver Insurance work?
- Claimants must have worked in Rhode Island and have paid into the Temporary Disability Insurance fund. Workers must have paid at least $9,600 into the TDI fund. For more information on eligibility and earnings requirements, visit the TDI website.
- Employees must provide their employer with a 30-day written notice unless unforeseeable circumstances prevent prior notice. TCI can run concurrently with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and Rhode Island’s family leave laws.
- After providing the 30-day notice, a claim cannot be filed until the individual has been out of work for at least seven consecutive days due to the need to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. Bonding claims may be filed by both parents but only during the first 12 months of parenting. Proof of a parent-child relationship is required.
What effects does Temporary Caregiver Insurance have on businesses?
- Based on the experience of businesses in California and New Jersey, states that have paid family medical leave programs in place, such a program is unlikely to have a significant effect on businesses in Rhode Island. The program is entirely funded by employees; employers do not have to pay employees’ salaries while they are on leave. Many small businesses that previously could not afford to offer paid leave to their employees can offer the benefit through the TCI program.
- A recent poll conducted for Small Business Majority found 7 in 10 small business owners and operators support the FAMILY Act, legislation that would establish a national insurance program enabling workers to take up to 12 weeks of paid time away from work in order to care for a loved one or bond with a new child. Additionally, most small business owners (61%) support state-administered paid leave programs.
- What’s more, a majority of small businesses have some type of policy—formal or informal—in place when it comes to family medical leave—time an employee would take to care for a family member with a serious illness or caregiving need. More than 7 in 10 (72%) small business owners have either a formal written policy, a consistent but not written policy or informal policy provided on a case-by-case basis to provide family medical leave. Of the small business owners who do offer family medical leave, 61% offer full or partial pay and 22% offer pay depending on the employee.
What effects does Temporary Caregiver Insurance have on employees?
- Employees who need to take leave to care for a loved one or welcome a new child would be able to do so without having to worry about whether they will be able to pay their bills or keep their jobs. Under TCI, employees who take leave are guaranteed job protection. Employers must hold the employee’s position until he or she returns to work, or must offer a comparable position with equivalent seniority, status, employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions.
Do other states have similar programs?
- Yes. California and New Jersey have similar family leave insurance programs. California’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program has been in effect for 10 years. New Jersey’s Family Leave Insurance (FLI) program has been in effect for 5 years. Both programs have been implemented successfully. Rhode Island has also just instituted a paid family leave program through its temporary disability insurance program. Evidence suggests that neither California nor New Jersey’s programs have imposed a burden on businesses, and both have had significant benefits for employees. Moreover, many employers find that the program is actually good for their businesses, boosting employee loyalty and lowering turnover.
What can I get additional information about TCI?
- Additional information about the TCI and TDI programs may be found on the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training website: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/