Unlike many other states, Rhode Island has chosen to enact robust laws governing the relationship between employer and employees. These laws cover:

  • employment discrimination,
  • conditions of employment,
  • minimum wage requirements,
  • employee drug testing, and
  • whistleblower protections.

Here we discuss Rhode Island laws relating to the payments made by employers to employees for work done.

When Must Paychecks Be Sent Out?

In Rhode Island, regardless of the type of employment, an employer must pay for wages earned within 9 days of the end of the payroll period.  For example, if the pay period was from January 1st through January 14th, the employer would have until January 23rd to make those wage payments. Payments can be delayed in extraordinary situations (such as floods, severe storms, etc.) or if the 9th day lands on a holiday.

What Happens If You are Fired?

Typically, an employee’s unpaid wages are due from the employer at the next regular payday.  For example, if you are normally paid on the 15th of each month but are terminated on the 10th, then you can expect to be paid for the work you performed on the 15th.

Furthermore, if an employee has completed at least 1 year of service with an employer prior to termination, and if there is an employment agreement that offers holiday or vacation pay, then the employer is required to considered unused holiday or vacation pay as unpaid wages and those wages are due and payable within 24 hours of termination.

Can Your Paycheck be Garnished?

Rhode Island employers may not set-off or garnish employee wages for things such as:

  • money owed due to alleged damages caused by the negligence of an employee,
  • money allegedly owed for rent provided by the employer; or
  • any other money allegedly owed to the employer by the employee.

For these types of debts, the employer must take legal action through the court systems.  A court order or other official documentation is usually required for the garnishment of wages in connection of debts owed to third parties (such as child support and unpaid taxes).

Can You Recover a Withheld Paycheck?

Rhode Island law provides employees with specific protections against improperly withheld paychecks. The law offers a well-structured process for employees seeking legal redress for improperly withheld wages. An employee also has legal protection if they entered an employee contract with an employer that states the employer may violate the law (such as improperly allowing the employer to withhold the employee’s paychecks).

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

Connect with a local Rhode Island employment lawyer to get better understanding of your rights and options under Rhode Island law if you believe that you have been treated unfairly by your employer.