Puerto Rico

Labor Compliance Guide

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The following are considered hours worked as per Puerto Rico Working Hour Regulation:

      • Hours that an employee works for his employer in excess of eight (8) hours during any calendar day. Nonetheless, the employer may notify the employee of an alternate twenty-four (24)-hour cycle, provided, that the notification is made in writing and within a term not less than 5 days prior to the start of the alternate cycle and that there are eight (8) hours between consecutive shifts.
      • Hours that an employee works for his employer in excess of forty (40) hours during any workweek.
      • Hours that an employee works for his employer during the days or hours in which the establishment should remain closed to the public by a legal provision. However, hours worked on Sundays, when the establishment should remain closed to the public by the provision of law, shall not be considered overtime hours for the mere reason of being worked during that period. Hours that an employee works for his employer in excess of the maximum number of working hours a day fixed in a collective bargaining agreement.

An employee is allowed to make up hours not worked for personal reasons. The makeup hours will not be considered overtime if worked during the same week of the absence and do not exceed 12 hours in one day or 40 hours in that particular week.

 

An employer may (but does not have to) allow an employee who had to time days or hours off for personal leave to work additional hours on another day to make up time lost. Such makeup work hours will not be considered extra hours that require overtime if:

  • The work hours are made up in the same week of the absence
  • The employee does not work more than 12 hours in a day
  • The employee does not work more than 40 hours per week.

Alternate Weekly Schedule

An employer and employee may agree in writing to establish an alternate workweek in which an employee works 10 regular hours for four days (which do not have to be consecutive) each week, without incurring the employer’s obligation to pay daily overtime. However, if, under the alternate workweek, an employee works more than 10 hours in a day, the employee is owed overtime. Alternate week schedule agreements must be in writing and voluntary. Employers cannot impose such an alternate week schedule as a condition of employment. Alternate week schedule agreements may be terminated at any time after 1 year.

Overtime

Any employee who works for more than 8 hours in a single day to be paid at least one and a half times their normal rate for all hours worked over the overtime limit. Employees hired before January 26, 2017, will be given the overtime rate as the double-time their normal rate.

 

 

Employees in Puerto Rico are entitled to be paid at least one and a half times their normal rate for all hours worked over the overtime limit for any hours worked over a total of 40 in a single workweek. Employees hired before January 26, 2017, will be given the overtime rate as the double-time their normal rate.

 

 

Breaks

All employees of any commercial or industrial establishment, company or business lucrative or non-profit, including those operated by associations or organizations without pecuniary purposes and charitable institutions will be entitled to a day of rest for every six (6) of work. For the purposes of this Act, it shall be understood as the day of rest a period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours.

 

Breast Feeding Break

The period granted to breastfeed or to express breast milk is hereby regulated by granting working mothers who return to work after enjoying maternity leave the opportunity to nurse their children for an hour during each full-time working day, a period which may be divided into two (2) thirty (30)-minute sessions or three (3) twenty (20)-minute sessions, to go where the child to be breastfed is being cared for, should the company or employer have a child care center in its facilities, or to express breast milk at the place provided for such purposes in the workplace. Said places shall guarantee nursing mothers privacy, safety, and hygiene. Said place must have electrical outlets and ventilation. If the employee is working on a part-time basis and the working day exceeds four (4) hours, the period granted shall be thirty (30) minutes for every consecutive four (4)-hour working period.

 

In the case of businesses considered as small businesses in accordance with the size regulations of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), these shall be required to provide breastfeeding mothers with a period of at least one-half (1/2) hour during each full-time working day to breastfeed or express breast milk, which period may be divided into two (2) fifteen (15)-minute periods each. If the employee is working on a part-time basis and the working day exceeds four (4) hours, the period granted shall be thirty (30) minutes for every consecutive four (4)-hour working period.

Work On Rest Days

Daily Rest

An employee should be allowed eight (8) hours of rest between shifts.

 

Weekly Rest

Nonexempt employees who work 6 consecutive days have the right to take a day of rest.

 

For employees hired before the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act 2017, any hours worked during the day of rest must be paid at double the rate agreed upon for the regular hours.

 

For employees hired after the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act 2017, any hours worked during the day of rest must be paid at time-and-a-half the rate agreed upon for the regular hours.

Annual Leave

Every employee shall be entitled to a minimum vacation leave accrual after working at least one hundred and thirty (130) hours a month. The minimum monthly vacation leave accrual rate shall be one-half (1/2) day during the first year of service; three-fourths (3/4) of a day after the first year of service up to the fifth (5) year of service; one (1) day after the fifth year of service up to the fifteenth (15) year of service; and one and one-fourth (1 1/4) of a day after the fifteenth (15) year of service.

 

The leave time for vacations and illness will accumulate based on the day regular work in the month in which the accumulation occurred. For employees whose schedules fluctuate, the regular workday will be determined by dividing the total regular hours worked in the month between the total days worked. For the employees whose work schedules cannot be determined will be computed at the basis of eight (8) regular hours. The vacation leave time will be used and paid on the basis of the regular workday at the time of use or payment of the benefit. For these purposes, a period not exceeding two (2) months before use or pay the benefit.

 

As of Jan 26, 2017, after the enactment of the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act – the minimum hours worked in order to accrue vacation and sick leave for all employees (except exempt administrators, executives, and professionals) has been increased to 130 hours per month, instead of 115 hours.

 

For employees hired after the enactment Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act, the minimum monthly accrual of vacation leave will be ½ a day during the first year of service; ¾ a day after the first year and until the fifth year; 1 a day after 5 years until 15 years; and 1¼ a day after 15 years. However, if an employer has no more than 12 employees, the minimum monthly accrual of vacation leave is a fixed ½ a day a month.

 

Accrual – For employees hired as of Jan. 26, 2017, the minimum monthly accrual for vacation leave will be half (1/2) a day during the first year of service; three fourth (3/4) of a day after the first year of service until completing five (5) years of service; one (1) day after five (5) years of service until the fifteenth (15) year of service; and one and one quarter (1 1/4) of a day after completing fifteen (15) years of service. Vacation benefits are not accrued during the first six (6) months of employment; however, once an employee completes six (6) months of employment, he/she will accrue vacation leave retroactively to the first day of employment.

Minimum Wage

Employees covered by Puerto Rico’s minimum wage law must be paid $7.25 an hour as given under federal law. Puerto Rico’s state minimum wage rate is $6.55 per hour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above information on minimum wages might not be up to date & subject to change. Kindly access the DOL website for the current rates.

Meal Breaks

A meal period must have a duration of 1 hour unless the employer and the employee mutually agree to reduce it in writing. A reduced meal period cannot be less than 30 minutes, except in the cases of nurses, security guards, croupiers, and others authorized by the Secretary of Labor, where it may be reduced to 20 minutes.

 

If an employee hired after Jan 26, 2017, after the enactment of Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act is required or permitted to work during his/her meal period, or if the period is enjoyed outside the required time frame, the employee will be entitled to payment at 1.5 his/her regular rate. Employees hired before the date still get double his/her regular rate.

 

Although employees working more than 10 hours a day may be entitled to a second meal break, if employees do not work more than 12 hours a day, the second meal break may be obviated if the first meal was taken.

 

An employer may not employ an employee for more than ten (10) hours per day without providing the employee a second meal period unless the total hours worked that day do not exceed twelve (12) hours. This second meal period can also be reduced. If the total hours worked do not exceed twelve (12) hours, the second meal period may be waived if the employee enjoyed the first meal period. Meal breaks do not need to be paid as long as an employee does not work during the break period.

 

Penalty – For employees who are hired after 1/26/2017, the penalty compensation employers must pay employees who work during the period fixed for the meal period, has been reduced to, in addition to his/her regular rate of pay, an additional amount equal to one half the regular rate of pay for the meal period or fraction worked. For employees who are hired before 1/26/2017, the penalty compensation employers must pay employees who work during the period fixed for the meal period, must be paid for all hours worked plus a meal period premium equivalent to his or her regular rate of pay.

Special Leave

Sick Leave
Every employee shall be entitled to a minimum sick leave accrual after working at least one hundred and thirty (130) hours a month. The minimum monthly sick leave accrual rate shall be one-half (1/2) day during the first year of service; three-fourths (3/4) of a day after the first year of service up to the fifth (5) year of service; one (1) day after the fifth year of service up to the fifteenth (15) year of service; and one and one-fourth (1 1/4) of a day after the fifteenth (15) year of service.
Sick leave not used by the employee during the course of the year it will be accumulated for successive years up to a maximum of fifteen (15) days. Except in cases of force majeure, the employee must notify his employer the fact of his illness as soon as it is foreseeable that he will miss the regular schedule from the beginning of his work and no later than the same day of his absence. Employees may use the accumulated days for the concept of the sick leave, up to a maximum of five (5) days and provided that maintain a balance of five (5) days, to attend:
      • The care and attention due to the illness of children, your spouse, his mother or father; or
      • The care and attention due to the illness of minors, elderly persons advanced or with disabilities over which you have custody or legal guardianship. This will not apply to businesses with fifteen (15) employees or less.

The enjoyment of sick leave does not excuse compliance with those norms of conduct validly established by the employer, such as those of attendance, punctuality, medical certifications if the absence exceeds two (2) working days and periodic reports on the continuation of the disease.

Voting Leave

The right of employees to be allowed by their employers, either public or private, to exercise their right to vote without impediment. It shall be the obligation of every employer whose business operations remain active on election day to establish working shifts that allow employees to go to their corresponding polling place during the hours in which it is open for voting, and for employees to be granted the time that is reasonably necessary to exercise their right to vote, considering, among other factors, the distance between their workplace and the polling center.

Maternity Leave

Effective July 19, 2018, workers in a pregnant state will be entitled to a rest that will include four (4) weeks before delivery and four (4) weeks later. The worker may choose for taking only one week of prenatal rest and extending up to seven (7) weeks the postnatal rest to which it has right whenever its employer is presented a Medical certification proving that you are able to work up to a week before the delivery.

Provided that any employee who adopts a minor of preschool age, understand, a child under five (5) years old or younger who is not enrolled in a school institution in accordance with the legislation and legal procedures in force in Puerto Rico, will be entitled to the same maternity leave benefits enjoyed by the employee who gives birth. In this case, the license will start counting from the date when the minor is received in the family nucleus.

Provided, that the working mother may request that she be allowed to Return to work after the first two (2) weeks of post-natal rest when she presents the employer with a medical certificate certifying that the worker is in working conditions. In this case, the worker will be considered as renouncing the other weeks of postnatal rest to which you are entitled. When it is wrongly estimated probable date of delivery and the woman has enjoyed four (4) weeks of rest.

Caregiver Leave

Employers can require employees to provide medical certification if they need more than two days of sick leave to care for family members.

Catastrophic Illness Leave

Effective Feb. 20, 2018, employers can require employees to provide medical certification from their treating health-care professional regarding their diagnosis and continuing medical treatment for a catastrophic illness. Employers must keep this information private and confidential in accordance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Military Leave

All officers or employees of private enterprise who are members of the Military Forces of Puerto Rico shall be entitled to military leaves of absence from their respective posts or employment without loss of time or efficiency rating during the period they were engaged in military service as part of their annual period of training or to comply with any call for Commonwealth Active Military Service made to members of the Military Forces of Puerto Rico.

Jury Service Leave

Employers must allow employees to take paid leave upon subpoena to appear as witnesses in court proceedings. Employees must provide reasonable advance notice of their need for leave. Employers cannot penalize employees for taking court attendance leave. Employers must allow employees to take paid or unpaid leave to serve as jurors. Employers cannot discharge employees because they take jury duty leave.

Leave for Victim of Domestic Violence

A new leave statute applicable to public and private employers was signed into law by Ricardo Rosselló signed into law as Act No. 83 (“Act 83” or “the Act”) on August 1, 2019. The law went into effect immediately. Act 83, in general terms, provides employees with 15 days of unpaid leave per year for instances of gender or domestic violence, abuse of minors, sexual harassment in employment, sexual assault, lewd acts or aggravated stalking.

The new “Special Leave” is in addition to any other leave to which the employee might be entitled under the law. The victim need not file a police report to be entitled to take Special Leave. The perpetrator of the abusive conduct is not entitled to take leave under the new law. 

Employees may take Special Leave when the victims are their family members. Covered family members include; Children, Spouses, Partners united by an affective relationship, Parents, and Minors, persons of advanced age, or with disabilities over which the employee has custody or guardianship.

An employee may use Special Leave to seek advice and obtain a restraining order or court order, seek and obtain legal assistance, and seek and obtain safe housing or space in a shelter. Leave time may be taken on a fractioned or intermittent basis. The employee is not entitled to carry over unused leave from prior years.

An employer may request supporting documentation detailing the time spent by the employee addressing the circumstances needing Special Leave. The employee must provide the documentation within a reasonable period, but no later than two business days after the employee’s last absence under the Special Leave. Employers may not require evidence of a conviction or arrest as a condition of use.

Employees may request reasonable accommodation or flexible work conditions to address an abuse situation. Any request must be in writing and may be denied only if it is “unreasonable” and only after evaluating all the possible accommodation for the employee.

Generally, an employee must provide at least two business days’ notice, unless the circumstances do not permit earlier notification. Notice may be provided by the employee, family, therapist, certified counselor, religious leader, shelter director, attorney, or other qualified professionals who have assisted the employee or family member as a result of the abuse. Notice may be provided by fax, in person, by email, in writing, or any other reliable method of communication.

Employees have a right under the law to be restored to their employment when the Special Leave has been exhausted. Failure to provide reinstatement entitles the employee to a claim for back pay and damages.

Documents submitted or produced in relation to the Special Leave must be kept confidential. However, the law provides an exception for responding to a subpoena or request from a government entity. Any documentation submitted by the employee must be filed in the employee’s personnel file under seal.

Special Paid Leave

On April 9, 2020, Puerto Rico signed into law House Bill No. 2428 (“Bill No. 2428”), now Act No. 37-2020, to amend the Puerto Rico Minimum Salary, Vacation and Sick Leave Act, otherwise known as Act 180-1998. The purpose of Bill No. 2428 is to establish a special paid leave for non-exempt employees infected (or are suspected of being infected) by the illness or epidemic that triggers a state of emergency declared by either the Governor of Puerto Rico or the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Health Department.

 

The amendment has added a subsection (p) to provide an employee infected or suspected of being infected with the disease or illness that caused the state of emergency the right to a special paid leave of five working days. Importantly, to use the special paid leave the employee must first exhaust all available accrued sick leave, as well as any other available accrued leave to which the employee is entitled. Employees cannot use this special paid leave for any other reason than those specifically established in subsection (p) of Article 6.

 

Last updated on: July 6th, 2020