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Temporary Caregiver Insurance – is Your State Next?

On January 5, 2014, the Temporary Caregiver Insurance program (TCI) became effective in Rhode Island.  So why should employers in other states care?  Well, what happens in Rhode Island may not stay in Rhode Island, and your state could be next.

The TCI program provides up to four weeks of wage replacement benefits for certain workers.  These workers must contribute to the program via wage deductions (workers age 14 and under are exempt from the deductions and coverage).  If they do, then those employees may take time off from work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, domestic partner, parent-in-law, or grandparent.  Additionally, time off may be taken to bond with a new child (be it via natural birth, adoption or foster care), as long as the request is within the first 12 months of becoming a parent.

Similar to other leaves mandated by law, employees must provide notice before taking the leave (30 days) unless there are unforeseeable circumstances and employers must offer a comparable position to the employee upon return from leave.  Some interesting and unique aspects are that both parents can take this benefit at the same time and an employee must be out for at least seven consecutive days prior to receiving this benefit.  Disputes over issues relating to the TCI program are to be handled by the courts, since, in Rhode Island, the Department of Labor and Training has no legal jurisdiction over those issues.

As lawyers, we know that many aspects of this new law will end up in the courts.  For instance, what is a “comparable position?”  Should the TCI leave run concomitantly with other unpaid leaves or consecutively?  Was proper notice given? If not, what is the remedy?  And the list goes on.  As an employer in a different state, just remember to stay aware of current changes in the law.  If a similar law gets enacted in your state, we are sure you will be faced with many questions, both procedural and legal.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.