Goodwin, Regunberg honored by AARP for sick time law
STATE HOUSE – Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg have received the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Rhode Island’s Capitol Caregiver Award for their sponsorship of paid sick leave legislation enacted last year for Rhode Island’s caregivers.
“I am proud to have the support of AARP, and very grateful to have had AARP as an ally in the effort to make sure working Rhode Islanders have the opportunity they need to take care of themselves and their family members. Our legislation will enable Rhode Islanders to care for their family members or themselves in the inevitable event of occasional illness, without the fear of jeopardizing their job or being unable to pay their bills. This is a matter of human dignity as much as it is a matter of health. Employees are, above all else, people — with lives and families — and they deserve to be able take care of themselves and their families when the need arises. I appreciate AARP’s recognition of how important this right is, and their advocacy for so many issues that enable Rhode Islanders to live healthy, rewarding lives at any age,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).
Said Representative Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence), “I can’t think of any work that is more noble, more underappreciated, and more critical to the future of our state than the work of caregiving. Without paid leave, far too many Rhode Islanders struggle to balance caring for family members and paying their bills. Nobody should be forced to choose between that care and their job. That’s why I was so grateful that, with AARP’s support, in September we passed our legislation to give over 100,000 of Rhode Island’s current and future caregivers the paid leave they deserve. Of course, there is much more to do, but our win on earned sick time tells me that we can do it. We can pass legislation like that I’ve introduced to bring accountability and transparency to prescription drug prices. We can invest in homecare options so folks can stay in the places they love the most. We can make sure that no one in Rhode Island gets left behind.”
Under the new law, which takes effect in July, workers at companies with 18 or more employees will be able to take up to three earned sick days, phasing up to four days in 2019, and finally five days starting in 2020. Workers at companies with 17 or fewer employees would be allowed the same amount of unpaid sick time each year without adverse consequences for the employee.
The two legislators accepted the award March 6 at the State House from AARP RI State Director Kathleen Connell and Associate Director John DiTomasso.
Said Connell, “AARP thanks these members of the General Assembly for championing passage of Earned Paid Sick Leave. They provided integral leadership to pass the legislation in 2017 and helped make the huge responsibilities of family caregivers in Rhode Islanders a little bit easier. Earned Paid Sick Leave allows caregivers, under a number of circumstances, to use accrued paid time off to address an emergency. This provides peace of mind for caregivers who often struggle to balance their jobs and their caregiving responsibilities.”
According to AARP’s Public Policy Institute, at any time during the year, an estimated 134,000 Rhode Island caregivers step up to provide nearly 150 million hours of care for an aging parent or loved one, helping them to live independently in their own homes. The care that these family caregivers provide is valued at nearly $1.8 billion per year.
IN PHOTO: Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, left, and Rep. Aaron Regunberg accept the Capitol Caregiver Award from AARP RI State Director Kathleen Connell.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903