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Puerto Rico: Employee rights

Original and updating authors: Shiara Diloné-Fernández, Elizabeth Pérez-Lleras and Anabel Rodríguez-Alonso, Littler

Summary

  • Puerto Rico local law governs some aspects of working time, including regular working hours, and pay for weekly and daily overtime, while federal law, applicable in Puerto Rico, also deals with weekly overtime pay. (See Hours of work)
  • Local law entitles many employees to a meal period during the working day and a weekly rest period (federal law provides no such entitlements). (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • While federal law does not restrict Sunday working in the private sector, local law places some restrictions on Sunday work in certain retail and other commercial establishments. (See Sunday work)
  • Under local law (unlike federal law), many employees are entitled to paid annual leave, accruing a maximum entitlement of 15 days of "vacation leave" a year. (See Holiday and holiday pay)
  • Under local law (unlike federal law), pregnant employees have a specific entitlement to paid maternity leave, which generally lasts for eight weeks, while working mothers are entitled to paid time off to breastfeed their child. (See Maternity and pregnancy rights)
  • Employees have no specific entitlement to parental or paternity leave under either federal or local law. (See Parental and paternity leave)
  • Federal law entitles certain employees to take unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks a year for specified family and medical reasons, while local Puerto Rico law provides employees with an entitlement to paid or unpaid leave for a variety of reasons. (See Other leave)
  • Federal and local discrimination laws apply to part-time employees in the same way as to full-time employees, while under other employment laws part-timers may not qualify for some entitlements that are based on number of working hours. (See Part-time workers)
  • Federal and local employment laws generally apply to employees on fixed-term contracts in the same way as they do to employees on open-ended contracts: the main exception relates to termination of employment under local law. (See Fixed-term workers)
  • Temporary agency workers are generally considered to be employees under local employment laws and therefore covered fully by these laws, and the temporary work agency and client company are usually jointly responsible for complying with the relevant law, with some exceptions. (See Temporary agency workers)
  • The employment consequences of a business transfer depend on the nature of the transaction, and local law gives some protection to employees affected by a transfer in certain circumstances. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • Federal law, applicable in Puerto Rico, governs employees' claims when a business files for bankruptcy. (See Insolvency of employer)
  • Disciplinary matters are governed mainly by the employment contract, an applicable collective agreement or an employee code of conduct (such codes must be reasonable and non-discriminatory), although local law provides specifically that various types of misconduct constitute "just cause" for dismissal. (See Disciplinary matters and codes of conduct)
  • Employees have a general right to privacy, and federal and local law governs various aspects of the collection and confidentiality of personal data. (See Data protection and privacy)
  • Federal and local law gives people who leave their job to serve in the armed forces a right to re-employment with their previous employer, under certain conditions. (See Military service and re-employment)