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Puerto Rico Enacts Law Providing Unpaid Leave and Reasonable Accommodation for Victims of Abuse

On August 1, 2019, just a day prior to his resignation as Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló signed into law Act No. 83 of August 1, 2019 (“Act 83” or “the Act”), a very detailed leave statute applicable to public and private employers. 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. This special leave also extends to family members, and allows employees to request reasonable accommodations, or flexible work conditions, to address these situations. Employees may request to take this leave through apportioned, flexible, or intermittent schedules.

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Holds Act 2’s Counterclaim Bar Does Not Preclude Employer’s Independent Suit

Act No. 2 of October 17, 1961 (Act 2) created a procedural process for the expeditious adjudication of employment claims in Puerto Rico. Among other ways to streamline the process, Act 2 bars the employer from filing a counterclaim against the employee.1 In Bacardí Corporation v. Evaristo Torres Arroyo, 2019 TSPR 133, 202 D.P.R. __ (July 26, 2019) (Bacardí), however, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico held that Act 2’s counterclaim bar does not preclude an employer from commencing a separate and independent action against the employee outside of Act 2’s summary proceedings.

Puerto Rico Enacts Leave for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Harassment and Assault

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. The new “Special Leave” is in addition to any other leave to which the employee might be entitled under law.

Guidelines on the Interpretation of Puerto Rico’s Employment Legislation, Chapters 6 and 8

As we have previously discussed, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (PR DOL) recently published the first edition of its Guidelines on the Interpretation of Puerto Rico’s Employment Legislation (Guidelines), which includes the PR DOL’s official statutory interpretation of nearly all of Puerto Rico’s employment laws. The over 200-page Guidelines are divided into 15 chapters and cover a wide range of statutes. This Insight is the third in a series that will provide a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the most important topics addressed in the Guidelines, including an interpretation of key provisions of the Puerto Rico Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act, Act No. 4 of January 26, 2017 (“Act 4-2017” or “LTFA”), which made substantial changes to virtually all existing employment laws in Puerto Rico. This installment includes a discussion of Chapters 6 and 8, which provide guidance on vacation entitlement, sick leave, lactation breaks, and equal pay.

Puerto Rico DOL Issues Guidance on Law Prohibiting Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

On May 2019, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (PRDOL) revised and updated its Protocol on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination pursuant to Act No. 22 of 2013 (Protocol). The new Protocol contains guidelines to assist private and public employers on how to interpret and implement Act No. 22, which generally prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in most public and private-sector workplaces.

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Holds Arbitration Clauses in Employment Contracts—Including Those Governing Unjust Dismissal Claims—are Valid and Enforceable

The Puerto Rico Supreme Court (PRSC) recently issued a judgment in José Méndez et al v. Carso Construction, 2019 TSPR 19 (May 22, 2019), validating an arbitration clause that covers a claim under the Puerto Rico Unjust Dismissal statute, Local Act No. 80 of May 30, 1976 (Act 80). The effect of the PRSC’s holding is that an arbitrator will have original jurisdiction to hear unjust dismissal disputes if the contract between the employer and the employee or contractor includes a valid arbitration clause.

Guidelines on the Interpretation of Puerto Rico’s Employment Legislation, Chapters 1-3

As we have previously discussed, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (PR DOL) has recently published the first edition of its Guidelines on the Interpretation of Puerto Rico’s Employment Legislation (Guidelines), which includes the PR DOL’s official statutory interpretation of nearly all of Puerto Rico’s employment laws. The over 200-page Guidelines are divided into 15 chapters and cover a wide range of statutes.

Puerto Rico Treasury Again Extends Deadlines to Request Federal Employee Retention Benefit After Hurricanes Irma And María

On May 17, 2019, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (“PR Treasury”) issued Internal Revenue Informative Bulletin No. 19-07, granting an additional extension until June 30, 2019 for employers to request the Federal Employee Retention Benefit (“Benefit”) related to Hurricanes Irma and María. Consequently, the deadline to submit a Benefit claim (for employers that have requested the Benefit and have not yet received it) has also been extended until July 10, 2019.

Puerto Rico Department of Labor Issues First Comprehensive Guidelines on Employment Laws

On May 8, 2019, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (hereinafter, “PR-DOL”) issued the first edition of the “Guidelines for the Interpretation of Puerto Rico’s Employment Legislation” (hereinafter, the “Guidelines”) in an effort to provide guidance and a general overview of its position and interpretation over Puerto Rico’s employment statutes and regulations. Instead of having several publications by topic, the PR-DOL chose to compile in a single publication the interpretations that they have been carrying out for decades, as well as new ones.

Puerto Rico Treasury Department Issues New Quarterly Tax Return for Withholding Payments for Services Rendered

Act 257 of December 10, 2018 (Act 257) amended the Puerto Rico Internal Revenue Code to require any person or entity required to withhold income tax on payments for services rendered to submit a reconciliation quarterly tax return. Accordingly, the Puerto Rico Department of the Treasury (the “PR Treasury”) recently issued Internal Revenue Circular Letter No. 19-10 (“CL 19-10”) to: (i) announce the issuance the new form 480.6 SP-1 (the “Quarterly Return”) and the procedures related to the electronic filing of the Quarterly Return; and (ii) establish a minimum tax withholding amount requirement that may be deposited quarterly with the Quarterly Return.
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