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Rhode Island Wage and Hour Laws

Federal wage and hour laws (established under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)) set the baseline minimum wage and overtime pay requirements that must be followed across the country. However, each state has the ability to set its own wage and hour laws as long as the state law doesn't fall below the minimum standards set by the federal law. This article provides a brief overview of Rhode Island's main wage and hour laws.

Minimum Wage Laws in Rhode Island

Code Section

Rhode Island Code section 28-12-3 and 28-12-3.1: Minimum Wages

What's Prohibited?

Employers in Rhode Island may not pay their employees less than $10.10 per hour.

Wages for Minors

Minors who are 14 or 15 years old may be paid an hourly wage of as little as 75% of the minimum wage specified above. However, minors who work more than 24 hours in a week must be paid in accordance with the minimum wage laws that apply to adults in Rhode Island.

Tipped Employees

Tipped employees (or employees who work in occupations where gratuities are customarily and usually received) must be paid in accordance with Rhode Island's minimum wage law. However, tips can be taken into account as part of the tipped employee's hourly wage rate for restaurant, hotel, and other industry employees (except for taxicabs and limited public motor vehicles). Tipped employees in Rhode Island must be paid at least $3.39 per hour in wages, and their wage combined with the tips received must equal at least the state's minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.

Student Employees

Full-time students who are less than 19 years old and who are employed by a nonprofit association or corporation whose objectives are religious, educational, librarial, or community service in nature, may be paid as little as 90% of Rhode Island's required minimum wage.

Minimum Hours

According to House Bill 6117, if an employer has an employee report for a shift and then has the employee work for less than three hours, the employer must pay the worker for at least three hours of work. This is not required if a sub-three-hour shift was agreed upon by both the employee and employer.

If a college student who works for the college/university is requested to work a shift of an agreed-upon length and the employer does not provide the student with work, the employer must pay the student for the amount of hours in the previously agreed-upon shift.

Overtime Pay Laws in Rhode Island

Code Section

Rhode Island Code section 28-12-4.1: Overtime Pay

What's Required?

Generally, employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must be paid at a rate of at least one and one-half times the employee's regular wage for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours.

For exceptions that apply to delivery drivers and sales merchandisers, please see the text of the statute.

Sundays and Holiday Rates

In any workweek in which an employee of a retail business works on a Sunday and/or a holiday, the employee must be paid for those hours worked at a rate of at least one and one-half times the employee's regular hourly wage.

However, the hours worked on Sunday and/or holiday are excluded from the calculation of overtime pay as required by this section.

Exempt Employees

While most employees in Rhode Island must be paid according to the overtime rules stated above, some employers (for example police officers, mechanics, and summer camp employees) are exempt from these requirements. For the complete list of exempt employees see section 28-12-4.3.

Violations – Payment of Substandard Wages

Any employer in Rhode Island who is convicted of paying, or agreeing to pay, wages at a rate less than required by the minimum wage and hour laws outlines above will be subjected to the penalties outlined below:

  • Fine of between $100 and $500, and/or
  • Imprisonment for between 10 and 90 days

Additionally, each week that the employer fails to pay an employee the minimum required amount constitutes a separate offense as to each employee.

Additional Resources

Get Legal Help with Your Questions About Rhode Island Wage and Hour Laws

Wage and hour laws are in place to protect workers from being taken advantage of by their employer. If you have questions or concerns about your employer's actions, it's best to speak with a local employment lawyer who will be familiar with Rhode Island wage and hour laws and tell you if your employer is in compliance with them.

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