Puerto Rico’s New Post-Hurricane Guidance: A How-To on Paying Exempt and Non-Exempt Workers

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.

Employers Helping Employees—Are Disaster Relief Payments and Loans Exempt From Puerto Rico Income Tax?

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.

Puerto Rico Equal Pay Act Aims to Close Gender Pay Gap

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.

Puerto Rico Redesigns its Business Environment Through an Overhaul of its Employment Regime

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.

The High Costs of Violating Puerto Rico’s Breastfeeding in the Workplace Law: Supreme Court Decides Right to Privacy Claim

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.

Puerto Rico’s Qualifying Employees May Use Paid Sick Leave to Care for Others

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).

Puerto Rico Bans Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Employment

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,…..