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Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury issues Q&As Clarifying Guidance on Qualified Payments Made for Hurricane María Disaster Assistance

As previously discussed, on October 4, 2017, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (the “PR Treasury”) issued Administrative Determination No. 17-21 (“AD 17-21”) granting temporary income tax exemption for payments considered “Qualified Payments made for Disaster Assistance” related to the recent hurricane. To clarify various aspects of AD 17-21, the PR Treasury issued a series of questions and answers (Q&As). The following is a summary of the clarification provided in the Q&As.

Employers Have until January 5, 2018 to Submit Comments on Proposed Regulation Implementing Puerto Rico’s Working Hours and Days Act

On December 6, 2017, the Puerto Rico Secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources (“Secretary”) published the proposed Regulation to Administer Act No. 379 of May 15, 1948, as amended, known as Puerto Rico’s Working Hours and Days Act. On the same day, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (“Department”) published a Public Notice informing employers, employees, and the general public of its intent to adopt the Regulation and inviting any person to submit written comments on or before Friday, January 5, 2018. Comments can be mailed, submitted via email, or physically presented to the Office of the Solicitor of Labor.

Puerto Rico Treasury Department Issues Post-Hurricane Rules for Qualified Retirement Plan and IRA Distributions and Loans

On November 15, 2017, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (the "PR Treasury") issued Administrative Determination Number 17-29 ("AD 17-29") to provide special rules and procedures applicable to distributions from qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts ("IRAs") following Hurricane María.

Puerto Rico Labor Department Updates Regulations on Payment of Annual (Christmas) Bonus

Employers in Puerto Rico must comply with updated regulations on the payment of the generally required annual bonus to eligible employees. The Puerto Rico Department of Labor (DOL) updated the regulations, effective October 18, 2017, following legislation adopted early in the year.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor Issues Opinion Regarding Allowed Payroll Deductions Following Hurricanes Irma and María

On November 10, 2017, Puerto Rico's Secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources (“Secretary”) issued Opinion No. 2017-002 (“Opinion”) addressing allowable deductions from non-exempt employees’ pay following hurricanes Irma and María. Many employers have been helping their employees by advancing them funds for emergency needs and have sought advice as to whether payroll deductions allowing employees to slowly repay such advances is a viable option. According to the new Opinion, the answer is most likely "no."

Puerto Rico Governor Signs Executive Order Authorizing Rules for Retirement Plan and IRA Distributions in the Wake of Recent Natural Disasters

On November 8, 2017, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed Executive Order No. 2017-067 (“EO 2017-067”) authorizing the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury (the “PR Treasury”) to establish tax rules for distributions from qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts following Hurricane María and other natural disasters. Under EO 2017-067, the PR Treasury must create:

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. The Opinion is consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Puerto Rico wage and hour law. Employers should observe the rules discussed below unless an employment contract, applicable collective bargaining agreement (CBA), or company policy or practice provides for more generous benefits.

Puerto Rico Agencies Issue Employee-Related Guidance, Tax Relief in Wake of Hurricane

The passage of Hurricane María through Puerto Rico in September 2017 left catastrophic damages. In an effort to encourage employer assistance and provide temporary economic relief to employees in Puerto Rico, local government agencies have issued the following measures and guidance related to employers concerning their employees.

Deadline to Make Contributions and File Quarterly Unemployment and Disability Tax Report in Puerto Rico Extended until December 15, 2017

On October 24, 2017, Puerto Rico's Secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources issued an Administrative Order granting an automatic extension for all employers required to file a Quarterly Unemployment and Disability Tax Report (“Quarterly Report”). Per the Administrative Order, the automatic extension applies to the filing of the quarterly salary statements required for both programs, as well as for the payment of contributions corresponding to the third quarter of 2017.

Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor Issues Opinion Regarding Employee Compensation Following Hurricanes Irma and María

On October 17, 2017, the Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor and Human Resources (Secretary) issued Opinion No. 2017-001 (Opinion) regarding the compensation of exempt and non-exempt private sector employees for workdays interrupted by Hurricanes Irma and María and their aftermath.