Puerto Rico Sick Leave Laws are More Comprehensive than United State Laws
US employers who also do business in Puerto Rico may not expect the myriad of employment laws that govern Puerto Rico businesses. Indeed, Puerto Rico has the most expansive and overreaching employment laws that US employers must comply by.
Puerto Rico provides 12 days of sick leave, 15 days of vacation, and 8 weeks of paid leave for pregnancy. The purpose of this article is to cover what employers should understand around Puerto Rico paid sick leave and paid vacation leave for compliance in Puerto Rico.
Overview of Puerto Rico Sick Leave Law
The Puerto Rico Sick Leave Law, also known as Act no 180, has been in place since 1998, making it the first out of any US Territory or state. To earn sick leave employees must work at least 115 hours a month.
That is an average of a little under 5.5 hours a day or about 28 hours a week.
Employees who work the required hours earn paid sick leave of 1 day for every month worked. Sick leave used counts toward the 115 hours minimum to continue to earn sick leave in later months. Employee must notify employers of sick leave as soon as possible and no later than the day of sickness, except for force majeure.
Sick Leave Approved Use for Family Members
In 2016, the sick leave act was updated with Act 251, created what is often called caregivers leave. It allows employees to use up to 5 days of sick leave to care for a family member Qualified family members include the employee’s spouse, children or parents.
Sick minors, those over 60 yrs old, and those with disabilities and are under the employees legal custody also qualify as family members.
However, caregiver’s leave only applies to employers with at least 15 or more employees. Employers can request medical certification if the employee takes leave of longer than 2 days.
- Person who is of advanced age (over 60 yrs old)
- Or a minor
- Or has a disability
- Who is under the employees guardianship or legal custody
In order for employees to be able to use caregiver leave, they must have enough leave to have a remaining balance of 5 days of sick leave after using sick leave for caregiving purposes.
Overview of the Mandatory Vacation Leave Law
Puerto Rican employees are eligible to earn up to 1 ¼ days of vacation days each month. The first year of the employees service, employees accrue sick leave at 0.5 days a month. After year 1 to 5 yrs of employment, employees earn sick leave at the rate of 0.75 days per month. After 5 years until 15 years, employee accrue sick leave at the rate of 1 day per month. After 15 years of service, employees earn the maximum rate of 1.25 vacation days per month.
In order to qualify, they must work the same 130 hours a month that is required to earn sick leave. When employee’s hours can’t be determined, they are assumed to work 8 hours a day for the purposes of sick leave accrual.
Employers can establish a vacation schedule to avoid a disturbance to the employer’s business. Vacation time should be taken consecutively, but can be fractionated as long as the employee takes at least 5 days of vacation time during the year.
- 1st year of service – 0.5 days
- After 1st year to 5 years of service – 0.75 days
- After 5 years to 15 yrs – 1 day
- After 15 years – 1.25 days
Exceptions to the Sick Leave and Paid Vacation Law
Puerto Rico’s Sick Leave Law names several exceptions. It includes businesses that are exempt from the Federal minimum wage. Employees excluded from the sick leave requirements are those employed as domestic servants, except chauffeurs.
Federal Government employees and employees of the Puerto Rican government, and municipal employees are all exempted from the ordinance.
- Domestic servants
- Federal Employees
- Puerto Rico employees
- Municipality employees
Accruing Leave, Caps, and Required Use
In Puerto Rico, employees have a 9 month probationary period for non-exempt employees. Exempt employees have an automatic 1 year probationary period. . Employees start to accrue sick leave at the commencement of employment.
However, they are unable to use sick leave during the probationary period. After 1 year of employment, the employee will be able to use accrued sick leave. Sick leave not used in a year can accrue up to a cap of 15 days of sick leave. Vacation leave cannot be used until after 1 year of employment as well. Vacation leave can accrue for up to 2 years.
After 2 years of vacation leave accruing, the employer who doesn’t grant use of vacation leave must pay the employee a payout of twice the value of the vacation leave.
Sick & Vacation Leave Payout
Employees can request to liquidate their vacation leave. Any vacation that has been accrued over 10 days may be liquidated at the request of the employee. The request must be given in writing. When employees leave an employment, all sick and vacation leave must be paid out to the employee.
Let SwipeClock Help
Businesses who have employees in Puerto Rico have to comply with US Federal law and Puerto Rico leave laws. Often these laws conflict or overlap.
Some of these laws include Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.
Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.
Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on November 25, 2017
- 7 Strategies to Improve Employee Relations [Onsite & Work-From-Home] - March 4, 2020
- Employers, conduct an FMLA Audit to Ensure Compliance - December 27, 2018
- FMLA Compliance:Recordkeeping Requirements You Don’t Want to Miss! - December 17, 2018