Last updated on: October 10th, 2023
Hours & Pay Regulations
Every employee shall be entitled to a minimum vacation leave accrual after working at least 115 hours a month. Employees who work at least 115 hours per month will accrue 1 1/4 vacation days per month. These accrual rates apply only to employers with more than 15 employees over 26 weeks in consecutive two-year periods.
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. Vacation time may be accrued up to 2 years by mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. An employer may allow that vacation time to include those non-working days comprised within the period in which the employee will enjoy his/her vacation, and/or non-working days immediately before or after the said vacation period.
For employers with 12 employees or less, the accrual is ½ day of vacation if the employee works at least 115 hours per month.
Part-Time Employees – Part-time employees will be entitled to accrue ½ day of paid vacation leave if they work more than 20 hours per week but less than 115 hours per month. For employers with 12 employees or less, part-time employees (as defined above) accrue ¼ day of vacation leave.
Accrual – All employees are required to work 115 hours to accrue vacation leave. Vacation leave benefits are to be accrued based on the regular workday during the months in which the benefits were accrued. In the case of employees whose daily work schedules vary, the regular workday will be determined by dividing the total regular hours worked during the month by the total amount of days worked. In the case of employees whose work schedules cannot be determined, the regular workday will be computed based on an eight-hour workday.
When an employee’s employment is terminated for whatever reason, the employer must pay the employee the total vacation leave he/she has accrued, even if it involves less than one (1) years’ worth of accrual of the benefit.
Pay – Vacation leave will be used and paid based on a regular workday at the time when the benefit is used or paid. Vacation leave pay will be equivalent to at least the regular hourly rate earned by the employee during the month in which said leave was accrued, except in the case of employees whose salary is based on non-discretionary commissions or other incentives. In those instances, the employer may calculate the regular hourly salary by dividing the total commissions or incentives earned during the year by 52 weeks.
All public- and private-sector employees who are registered voters and are scheduled to work on a voting date, and the schedules overlap with the opening hours of the polling places, have a right to request the opportunity to vote by mail or in a voting center that allows individuals to vote in advance. Employees who cannot know their work schedule in advance on a voting day will be entitled to a 2-hour paid leave during the workday to vote.
Employee shall be entitled to paid maternity leave for the birth of a child. A pregnant employee is generally entitled to 8 weeks of maternity leave. The employee must present a medical certificate indicating that she is pregnant and the estimated date of birth. The leave is comprised of 4 weeks of prenatal leave and 4 weeks of postnatal leave.
However, an employee may remain at work up to 1 week prior to the estimated date of birth, if she presents a medical certificate that authorizes her to work up to that time. An employee may also return to work as early as 2 weeks after giving birth if she presents a medical certificate from her doctor certifying that she can return to work. If the date of birth is delayed, the employee may continue on prenatal leave until the birth of the child without affecting the postnatal leave. Also, if post-natal complications arise, maternity leave may be extended up to an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Pay – The employer shall pay the working mother full salary, wages, day wages, or compensation that she has been receiving for her work. This payment shall be made at the time the employee begins to enjoy her maternity leave or maternity by adoption leave. The average salary, wages, day wages, or compensation that she has been receiving during the six (6) months prior to commencing her rest period shall be used as the basis to compute her full salary, wages, day wages or compensation or, if it is not possible to apply said six-month period, the salary, wages, day wages or compensation the working woman was earning at the time she began to enjoy the leave or special rest period approved by law.
Breast Feeding Break – Employers shall provide full-time nursing mothers unpaid breaks to breastfeed or express breast milk for 1 hour each day, which can be broken up into two 30-minute periods or three 20-minute periods. The Act extends the right to lactation breaks to part-time employees whose workday exceeds four hours. Their lactation break must be 30 minutes for each period of four consecutive hours of work. In small businesses, lactation breaks must be half an hour each workday, which can be broken up into two 15-minute periods.
Working mothers who a child age five or younger who was not yet enrolled in school. shall be entitled to the same 8-week paid maternity leave benefit granted to birth mothers. Working mothers who adopt a child six years of age or older shall be entitled to up to 5 weeks of paid maternity leave.
Puerto Rico allows employees to use up to 5 days of medical leave in connection with the illness or medical treatment of a child, parent, spouse, person of advanced age or with a disability, or under the employee’s custody or tutelage.
An employee who has worked with the same employer for more than 12 months and must have worked for an average of at least 130 hours per month during such period will be eligible for this Special Leave with pay of up to a maximum of six (6) working days per year, in addition to those to which the employee is already entitled to by law. The leave may be used through split, flexible, or intermittent schedules. Before requesting the leave, the employee must exhaust his/her sick leave. The leave may not be transferred or rolled over to the following year, and it will not be cashed out upon an employee’s termination of employment.
The use of this leave may not be used for unfavorable evaluations of the employee or to take adverse actions against him or her, such as, but not limited to, reductions in working hours, reclassification of positions, or changes in shifts. In addition, the use of this leave will be considered time worked for purposes of the accrual of all benefits as an employee. The employer may require the employee to provide a medical certificate from the health professional offering the medical treatment, certifying that the employee is diagnosed with any of the Serious Diseases of Catastrophic Character and that the employee continues to receive medical treatment for said illness.
Some of the diseases which are covered under this Act are – AIDS, tuberculosis, leprosy, lupus, cystic fibrosis, cancer, hemophilia, aplastic anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, autism, post organ transplant, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and chronic renal disease, stages 3, 4 and 5.
Employees are entitled to unpaid leave for employees of the private sector who are members of Puerto Rico’s Military Forces, to be absent and serve as part of their annual training, or to comply with any call to serve. Private employees who are members of the armed forces who are asked to serve are eligible for unpaid leave of up to 45 days. The leaves become available in cases of military training, such as drills or battle assembly, as well as courses or seminars ordered as part of their military training, and are provided without any effect on the employee’s seniority or efficiency rating. Members of Puerto Rico’s State Guard who are also employees in the private sector, upon honorable completion of their services or training, have a right to reemployment subject to the conditions provided by the Act.
Any person hired by a private employer, who has been summoned for jury duty in a court, shall have the right to enjoy paid leave from his employer up to a maximum of 15 working days.
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 left.
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, 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.
Employees in Puerto Rico may take up to 15 days of unpaid leave each calendar year to address situations related to domestic or gender-based violence, child abuse, sexual harassment in employment, sexual assault, lewd acts, or felony stalking under a new law.
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 the law.
Athletes, trainers, and other sports participants certified by the PR Olympics committee are entitled to 30 days of unpaid leave annually to participate in training or competition (if participation is certified by the PR Olympic Committee). Employees may use available paid vacation to receive paid leave. An additional 15 days of leave may be taken if the employee has accumulated additional leave.