Puerto Rico

Labor Compliance Guide

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The regular work shift for non-exempt employees is 8 hours per day and a regular workweek of 40 hours per week. The workweek will begin on the day and time that the employer determines and so the employer will notify the employee in writing.

 

In the absence of notice from the employer, the work week will begin by statutory default at 12:01 a.m. on the Monday of each week. The employer must inform the employee of any change in work schedule at the beginning of the workweek, at least 5 calendar days before the change.

 

For the calculation of the “regular rate” under the FLSA payments for “paid time off” (PTO), when not worked, as well as payouts for unused PTO, is not be included in the regular rate, as this is pay for non-working time.

 

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 4 days (which do not have to be consecutive) each week, without incurring the employer’s obligation to pay daily 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. 

 

The employer may notify the employee of an alternate cycle of twenty-four(24) hours, as long as the notification is in writing in a term no less than five (5) days before the start of the alternate cycle and there are at least eight (8) hours between consecutive shifts.

 

Overtime pays for Alternative Weekly Scheduling – If the employee works more than 10 hours in a given day, the employee will be entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times.

 

Make-Up Time

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 as overtime if:

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

An employee has the right to request changes of schedule, working hours, or work location. An employee is entitled to request if it is in writing, he or she works 30 hours or more per week, has worked for at least one year for the employer, and has not made the same request in the six months since the employer’s last response to such a request. 

 

Flexible Work Schedule

An alternate or optional flexible work schedule may be established solely by the agreement between the employee and the employer, which will allow advancing or delaying the hour to begin the workday and the period assigned for meals. Any such agreement shall also provide for a rest period of not less than twelve (12) consecutive hours, between daily work schedules. Those hours resulting from having advanced or delayed the work schedule or the time for taking meals during the workday shall not be deemed overtime. Nevertheless, those hours worked during the periods reserved for resting or meals and those hours worked more than the daily eight (8) hour workday or the forty (40) hour workweek, shall be deemed to be and paid as overtime

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. 

 

For the purpose of computing the hours worked in excess of 40 hours, the workweek shall constitute a period of 168 consecutive hours. Employees engaged in executive, administrative, or professional capacities (and paid at least $455 per week on a salary basis) are exempt from the overtime requirement. 

 

Employees in Puerto Rico are entitled to be paid at least 1.5 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 double-time their normal rate.

 

Breaks

Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 1-hour unpaid meal break. This break can start after the 2nd consecutive hour of work and, to avoid a meal-break penalty, it must also be scheduled before the beginning of the 6th consecutive hour of work so that employees are not required to work for more than 5 consecutive hours without a meal period.

 

If a non-exempt employee’s working day consists of no more than 6 hours, the meal break may be waived. If the employee works for more than 10 hours per day, the employee is entitled to a second meal break. This second meal break may be waived when a working day does not exceed 12 hours, provided the first meal break was taken.

 

A reduced meal period cannot be for less than 30 minutes, except in the cases of nurses, security guards, croupiers, and others authorized by the Secretary of Labor and Human Resources, where it may be reduced to 20 minutes.

 

Penalty – If an employee hired after Jan 26, 2017, after the enactment of the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act is required or permitted to work during his/her meal period, or if the period is enjoyed outside the time frame under the meal break law, the employee will be entitled to payment for a said period or fraction thereof, at 1.5 times the rate for regular hours. Employees hired before the date still get double his/her regular rate. This penalty is independent of overtime requirements.

 

Daily Rest – Employee shall be entitled to at least eight (8) hours of rest between consecutive shifts. 

 

Weekly Rest – Nonexempt employees who work 6 consecutive days have the right to take a day of rest. The day of rest comprises 24 consecutive hours. Work performed during Sundays is not overtime unless it is in excess of 8 hours in the day, 40 hours in the workweek, or during a seventh consecutive day of work.

Work On Rest Days

Employee shall be entitled to a premium of 1.5 times the regular rate of pay for any hour worked during the day of rest. An employee 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.

Public Holidays

Work performed in retail establishments on Good Friday and Easter Sunday will still be subject to premium pay of 1.5 times the regular rate of pay.

 

Christmas Bonus – The mandatory Christmas Bonus is reduced to 2% of the total salary, with a $600 cap for employees who work 1,350 hours that year, and up to $300 if the employer has twenty (20) employees or less. During the first year of employment, the employer may pay 50% of the Christmas Bonus. The Bonus must be paid to each employee between November 15 and December 15 of each year, subject to late fees. This particular disposition applies to all employees, including the ones hired before the enactment of the act. Employees hired before the enactment of the Act will keep their right to receive a Christmas bonus equivalent to 6% of their annual salary with a $600 cap when they work a minimum of 700 hours during the year.

Annual Leave

Every employee shall be entitled to a minimum vacation leave accrual after working at least 130 hours a month. The minimum monthly vacation leave accrual rate shall be 1/2 day during the first year of service; 3/4th of a day after the first year of service up to the 5th year of service; 1 day after the fifth year of service up to the 15th year of service; and 1 1/4 of a day after the 15th year of service.

 

The minimum monthly accrual for sick leave will be one (1) day for each month.

 

Law No 180 allows employees to accrue one and a quarter days of vacation leave for a total of 15 days per year, for each month in which the employee works at least 130 hours per month, for employees retained prior to 26 January 2017.

 

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 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.

 

Accrual – All employees are required to work 130 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.

Minimum Wage

Effective January 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Puerto Rico is $7.25. 

 

 

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

Special Leave

Unpaid Leave
Employees may be eligible to take unpaid, job-protected, leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Please refer to the main United States page for further details on this Federal law.
Sick Leave
The minimum monthly accrual for sick leave will be 1 day for each month. Sick leave will be accrued from the start of the employee’s probationary period. Leave is paid. The minimum hours worked to accrue sick leave for all employees (except exempt administrators, executives, and professionals) is 130 hours per month.
Puerto Rico also allows employees to use up to five 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. Sick 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.
Pay – Sick 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.
Voting Leave

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.

Maternity Leave

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.

Adoption Leave

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.

Caregiver 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.

Catastrophic Illness Leave

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.

Military Leave

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. Members of Puerto Rico’s State Guard who are also employees in the private sector, upon an honorably completion of their services or training, have a right to reemployment subject to the conditions provided by the Act.

Jury Service Leave

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 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. 

Leave for Victim of Domestic Violence

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.

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 the law.

Sports Leave

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.  

Last updated on: June 9th, 2021