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Employer’s Guide to Rhode Island State Holidays

9 min read
Rhode Island state holidays

Rhode Island state holidays are a time for employees to celebrate with their families and friends. But for employers, they can be a balancing act. On the one hand, employers want to provide their employees with the opportunity to enjoy these holidays. On the other hand, they also need to ensure that their businesses continue to operate smoothly.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the Rhode Island state holiday calendar and explore all leave and labor laws that employers need to be aware of. We will also discuss how using the right technology can help employers stay legally compliant and build a happy and productive workforce.

Jump to 2024 Rhode Island State holiday dates

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Rhode Island Federal Holidays

The United States is made up of 50 states, each with its own laws and government. As a result, there are two types of holidays in the US:

  • Federal holidays: These holidays are declared by the US Congress and celebrated in all states, including Ohio, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida.
  • State and local holidays: These holidays are only celebrated in certain states or cities. They are declared by state, county, or city governments. Examples include Martin Luther King Jr. Day (observed in most states), Confederate Memorial Day (observed in some southern states), and Patriot’s Day (observed in Massachusetts).

Before we discuss which state holidays Rhode Island celebrates, let’s explore the list of federal holidays in the US.

As of 2023, the US observes the following 11 federal holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday (3rd Monday in January)
  • Presidents’ Day (3rd Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth (June 19)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October)
  • Veterans’ Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

However, there is one difference in Rhode Island as the state does not observe Presidents’ Day. This is because, instead of celebrating the combined birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on this day, Rhode Island chooses to mark them separately on their respective anniversaries. More on this below.

* Presidents’ Day was originally celebrated on February 22nd, marking George Washington’s birthday. However, this holiday was officially moved to the third Monday in February when the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act” became law in 1971. Congress enacted this law to provide uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.

Rhode Island State Holidays

In addition to the federal holidays that are celebrated all over the United States, Rhode Island also has its own state holidays. These holidays are a time to celebrate the state’s unique history and culture.

In this section of the article, we will explore all Rhode Island state holidays, including when they are celebrated and why.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln

As we mentioned above, Rhode Island does not observe Presidents’ Day. Instead, the state officially celebrates George Washington’s Birthday and Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday separately as official Rhode Island state holidays.

Here’s everything you need to know about these historical celebrations in Rhode Island.

  • George Washington’s Birthday. Rhode Island, along with a few other states including New York, continues to officially recognize and celebrate George Washington’s Birthday on the third Monday in February. This acknowledges the significance of the first president of the United States and his contributions to the country.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. Rhode Island also separately observes Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, honoring the legacy of the 16th President of the United States. This individual recognition highlights Lincoln’s pivotal role in the history of the nation, particularly during the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday is observed on the third Monday of February, unless it falls on the same day as Washington’s Birthday, in which case it is observed on the fourth Monday of February.

There are a number of ways that Rhode Islanders mark George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Some people attend church services or other religious events. Others visit historical sites, such as the George Washington National Forest or the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Many people also simply enjoy the day off by spending time with family and friends.

Victory Day

Victory Day is another official Rhode Island state holiday, observed on the second Monday in August. It commemorates the end of World War II on August 14, 1945, when Japan surrendered to the United States and its allies.

Rhode Island is the only state in the United States that has a holiday for Victory Day. It was established in 1948, a few years after the end of World War II.

Here are some specific examples of how Rhode Islanders observe Victory Day:

  • The Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Auditorium hosts a “Victory Day Concert” each year.
  • The Rhode Island World War II Veterans Memorial State Park hosts a “Victory Day Observance” each year, with speeches, songs, and other activities honoring Rhode Island’s veterans.
  • Many schools and libraries in Rhode Island hold special programs on Victory Day.

Victory Day is a significant holiday for Rhode Islanders, and it is a time to remember and honor the veterans who served in World War II.

Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October. It commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492.

Rhode Island observes Columbus Day in a number of ways. This includes:

  • The Rhode Island Italian American Chamber of Commerce hosts a “Columbus Day Parade” in Providence each year.
  • The Rhode Island Christopher Columbus Center hosts a “Columbus Day Festival” each year, with food, music, and other activities celebrating Italian culture.

It is worth noting, however, that in recent years there has been growing controversy over the celebration of Columbus Day. Some people argue that Columbus’s voyages led to the genocide and enslavement of Indigenous peoples. As a result, a number of cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a holiday that honors the Indigenous peoples who lived in the Americas before European colonization.

As of 2023, the Ocean State continues to observe Columbus Day as a Rhode Island state holiday. However, the state now also recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 9.

The observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a way to recognize the contributions of Indigenous peoples to Rhode Island and the United States. It is also a way to raise awareness of the challenges that Indigenous peoples continue to face today.

General Election Day

General Election Day is the day when voters elect candidates for federal, state, and local offices. This includes the President of the United States, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Governor of Rhode Island, members of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and other state and local officials.

Election Day, observed on the first Tuesday in November, is an official Rhode Island state holiday. Rhode Islanders observe General Election Day in a number of ways. Some people vote in person at their local polling place. Others vote by mail. And many people simply take the day off to watch the election results and learn about the winners.


Finally, Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States that commemorates the end of slavery in the country. It is celebrated on June 19, the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved people were free.

Juneteenth is a relatively new federal holiday, after President Joe Biden signed it into law in 2021. However, African Americans have celebrated it for over 150 years. Rhode Island has been observing Juneteenth since 2012, but it did not become an official Rhode Island state holiday until 2023.

Here are some specific examples of how Rhode Islanders observe this holiday:

  • The Rhode Island State House is decorated with flags and other symbols of Black liberation on Juneteenth.
  • The Providence Juneteenth Coalition hosts a “Providence Juneteenth Festival” each year, with food, music, and other activities celebrating Black culture.
  • The Rhode Island Black Heritage Society hosts a “Juneteenth Celebration” each year, with educational programs, performances, and other activities honoring the legacy of Juneteenth.
  • Some people visit historical sites, such as the Museum of African American History and Culture in Providence.

Ultimately, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate the freedom of African Americans and to recommit to the fight for racial justice. It is also a time to learn from the past and to build a better future for all.

2024 Rhode Island Holidays

In 2024, Rhode Island observes these federal holidays and regional holidays on the following days:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1, 2024)
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Monday, January 15, 2024)
  • George Washington’s Birthday (Monday, February 19, 2024)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2024)
  • Juneteenth (Wednesday, June 19, 2024)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4,2024)
  • Victory Day (Monday, August 12th, 2024)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2, 2024)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14, 2024)
  • Veterans’ Day (Monday, November 11, 2024)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28, 2024)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2024)

What Employers Need to Know about Rhode Island State Holidays

When it comes to Rhode Island state holidays, employers need to be aware of certain requirements in terms of employee time off and holiday pay. These requirements vary depending on whether an employer is public or private. Requirements are also dependent on local ordinances, collective bargaining agreements, and employment contracts that may impose specific requirements or guidelines. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to ensure the fair and consistent treatment of employees during holiday periods.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Public Sector Employees: Rhode Island State Holidays

Public employees in Rhode Island are entitled to paid time off for the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Washington’s Birthday
  • Lincoln’s Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Moreover, if a holiday falls on a weekend, public employers typically offer a compensatory day off during the week.

Finally, public employers must offer overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage to employees who work on a holiday.

Private Sector Employees: Rhode Island State Holidays

Private employers in Rhode Island are not legally required to provide paid or unpaid time off for Rhode Island state holidays. However, if a private employer does offer paid holidays, they must provide paid time off for the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Moreover, if a holiday falls on a weekend, private employers do not have to offer employees a compensatory day off.

Despite the above, many private employers choose to offer time off as a benefit to their employees. This is because it can be a great way to attract and retain employees. Many employers also offer additional leave benefits including unlimited PTO, personal time off, floating holidays, VTO, and flexible time off. Employers in Rhode Island are also generally free to design their own vacation accrual, vacation payout, and PTO carry-over systems.

Additional considerations:

  • Employees who are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
  • Employers do not have to offer overtime pay to employees who work on a holiday if the employee is exempt from the FLSA.
  • Employees can request reasonable accommodations for their religious beliefs and practices. This may include requests for time off for religious holidays. Employers do not have to grant all requests for religious accommodations, but they must make a good-faith effort to do so.

What Other Rhode Island Leave and Labor Laws Should Employers Keep in Mind?

In addition to the holidays and time off requirements discussed above, there are a number of other leave and labor laws that employers in Rhode Island need to be aware of.

Paid Sick and Safe Leave

Firstly, employers with 18 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe leave to their employees. Employees can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick and safe leave per year, which they can use for a variety of reasons, including illness, injury, family care, and domestic violence.

Unpaid Parental Leave

Secondly, employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have 1,250 hours of service in the past 12 months are eligible for up to 13 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Employees must give their employer at least 30 days’ notice before taking parental leave.

Military Leave

Employers must also offer unpaid leave to employees on active military duty. They also must reinstate employees to their jobs at the end of their military leave, and pay them the same wages and benefits as before they left for military duty.

Jury Duty

Employers must excuse employees who serve on jury duty for the duration of their jury service. They also must pay them their regular wages for the time that they are serving on jury duty.

Voting Leave

Employers must offer up to two hours of unpaid leave for employees to vote on Election Day. Employees must give the employer notice of their intent to take voting leave at least two days in advance.


Rhode Island prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and marital status. This means that employers cannot discriminate against employees in hiring, firing, promotions, or other employment decisions on the basis of these protected characteristics.


Rhode Island prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise their rights under state labor laws. Employers cannot fire, demote, or otherwise retaliate against employees who file complaints with the Rhode Island Department of Labor or who participate in investigations by the department.

Child Labor

Finally, Rhode Island has child labor laws that restrict the hours that minors can work and the types of jobs they can perform. Employers who hire minors must comply with these laws.

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An All-in-One Solution for Rhode Island State Holidays: Time Off, Holiday Pay, and More

Managing time off and holiday pay for Rhode Island state holidays can be complex and time-consuming, especially for employers with a large number of employees. Factorial’s HR software can help employers automate these tasks, ensuring that employees are paid correctly for their time off and that the company remains compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

In fact, Factorial’s software offers a number of features that can help employers manage paid time off and unpaid leave for Rhode Island state holidays, including:

  • Automatic leave tracking. Factorial’s software automatically tracks employee time off, including vacation days, sick days, and holiday leave. This helps employers to ensure that employees are taking time off in accordance with their leave balances and company policies.
  • Holiday pay calculation. Factorial’s leave management system automatically calculates holiday pay for employees. Calculations take into account the employee’s salary, holiday pay rate, and any other relevant factors. This helps employers to ensure that they pay employees correctly for their holiday leave.
  • Compliance support. Factorial’s software helps employers to stay compliant with all applicable laws and regulations regarding time off and holiday pay. This includes Rhode Island state holidays, as well as federal holidays and other types of time off requests.

In addition, Factorial’s software is easy to use and can be customized to meet the specific needs of each employer. It is also affordable and scalable, making it a good option for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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