Puerto Rico is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Recently, the governor of Puerto Rico signed into law Act No. 115 of June 20, 2018, to promote recovery efforts and provide much-needed aid to affected non-exempt employees in situations of emergency.
On October 17, 2017, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (Secretary of Labor) published Opinion No. 2017-001, providing further guidance to private-sector employers on how they should compensate their non-exempt and exempt employees in Puerto Rico in light of the prolonged interruption in business activities brought about by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
With the havoc wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, employers are exploring options to provide emergency relief to those employees who have encountered financial hardship to meet their necessities and repair their homes in the wake of the disaster. Occasionally, aid from employers to employees comes in the form of disaster-relief monetary payments and interest-free loans.
Paternity leave is on the rise globally as cultural attitudes shift in favor of fathers taking a more active role in parenting. On May 24, 2017, the Republic of Panama became the latest member of a growing group of countries that require paid paternity leave.
On March 8, 2017, Puerto Rico continued the overhaul of its employment laws by enacting, with immediate effect, Act No. 16, known as the “Puerto Rico Equal Pay Act.” The act is not only similar to the federal Equal Pay Act of 1963, it also requires that Puerto Rico courts interpret the act in accordance with its federal counterpart and related federal regulations.
In an effort to become more competitive in the face of a flagging economy, an attractive jurisdiction for establishing businesses and creating employment opportunities, and to increase talent acquisition and retention locally, Puerto Rico is overhauling its employment law regime through the enactment of the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act (the Act). Puerto Rico’s new governor, Ricardo Rosselló, signed the Act into law on the morning of January 26, 2017. The Act dramatically alters the currently very employee-friendly labor and employment landscape in Puerto Rico, making it both more attractive for employers, while also increasing flexibility for employee schedules.
Protections for breastfeeding employees in Puerto Rico just became even stronger. A recent ruling from Puerto Rico’s highest court in Siaca v. Bahía Beach Resort & Golf Club, LLC, held that failing to provide a safe, private, and hygienic space for employees who are nursing to breastfeed or extract breast milk while in the workplace constitutes a breach of an employer’s obligations under Act No. 427 of December 16, 2000. In addition, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, which issued the Bahía Beach decision on January 25, 2016, ruled that failing to provide a space for breastfeeding or extracting breast milk may also result in a violation of a nursing employee’s constitutionally-protected right to privacy.
Effective December 31, 2015, all employers in Puerto Rico with at least 16 employees must allow eligible employees to use up to 5 paid sick leave days to care for an ill spouse, parent, or child. Eligible employees are those covered by the Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation, and Sick Leave Act (i.e., nonexempt employees and outside salespersons).
Last week, on May 29, 2013, Puerto Rico’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla, signed S.B. 238 into law enacting Act No. 22, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, both in the public and private sectors. Act No. 22 was enacted despite vigorous lobbying against its approval,…..