No matter what the situation, if you are leaving a Rhode Island job, there’s a substantial amount of stress that comes with that. You have rights from your company, covered by your employer’s unemployment insurance.  Whether you were laid off, fired, or you quit, there are different ways that you are owed by your company.

To qualify for unemployment:

  • You have to have earned a minimum amount in wages before you became unemployed
  • To qualify for benefits in Rhode Island, you must either have earned $10,800 or more during the base period, or you must meet all of the following requirements:
  • You must have earned at least $3,600 during the entire base period
  • You must have earned at least $1,800 during the highest paid quarter of the base period
  • In the entire base period, you must have earned at least 1.5 times what you earned in the highest paid quarter.
  • You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, as defined by Rhode Island law
  • You must be able and available to work and actively seeking employment

If You are Laid Off:

When you are laid off from your company, in the vast majority of cases, you are entitled to unemployment benefits. This is because you have done nothing to warrant termination. Your company has become incapable of keeping you on, and that makes them responsible for the need to deny you of your job. You get the most benefits if you are laid off, so of all of the options of leaving a company, being laid off provides the best possible option, compensation-wise.

If You Are Fired:

Being fired does not necessarily bar you from being eligible for benefits. If you were not a good fit for the job, or if you didn’t have the proper skills, you can still qualify for unemployment. But, if you were fired for reasons such as misconduct or inappropriate behavior, you will not be awarded benefits. Under Rhode Island law, misconduct is defined as directly disregarding the employer’s interests or knowingly violating a reasonable and consistently enforced workplace rule or policy.  The only exception is if the violation was due to incompetence or a lack of knowledge.


Quitting your job disqualifies you from receiving unemployment benefits, UNLESS you had a good reason.  A good reason to quit a job is defined as a reason so compelling that you had no other choice but to leave. Something like office discrimination, or poor working conditions that your employer refused to fix, may negate the disqualification. There is another condition that affects the state of your eligibility for benefits. If you quit for extenuating personal reasons, like having to relocate with your spouse, to escape an abusive relationship, or for a family emergency, disability reasons.

It’s important to know your rights as an employee when you leave a job to be sure that you are not being deprived of your rights.  If you have any questions about whether or not you are being given the right compensation or if your employer is refusing to compensate you properly, contact us!  We’re happy to help you understand more about the Rhode Island unemployment benefit laws.

For over 20 years Attorney Matthew J. Brier has been serving the Providence, Pawtucket, Lincoln, Cumberland, Central Fall and North Providence areas. Attorney Brier is Providence and Bristol County’s Unemployment Law attorney. Call 401-729-4600 or email

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