Puerto Rico: Training and development

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

Summary

  • There is no general statutory obligation on employers to provide or finance vocational training for their employees. (See General)

Note

Puerto Rico is a territory of the US and, as such, is subject to both US federal law and local law.

The two primary sources of law in Puerto Rico are:

  • federal law arising from the Constitution of the US, federal statutes and their implementing regulations, and certain executive directives; and
  • Puerto Rico law arising from the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico statutes and their implementing regulations, the Puerto Rico Civil Code, and the judge-made common law of Puerto Rico.

The employment relationship is governed by US federal law as well as Puerto Rico law, and sometimes by the law of the applicable local municipal government within Puerto Rico. Some matters, however, are governed almost exclusively by US federal law, which takes precedence over Puerto Rico law in certain areas.

Federal law is generally enforced through a nationwide system of federal courts and administrative agencies (but can also be enforced in state courts, including those of Puerto Rico).

The primary mechanism for enforcement in Puerto Rico is private litigation, whether before the Puerto Rico court system, or before the US court system (the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico and the First Circuit Court of Appeals), or through arbitration. In addition, administrative agencies, such as the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (PRDLHR), and the US Department of Labor, through various offices, provide other mechanisms of enforcement for claims related to discrimination, retaliation, wages and hours, unjustified dismissal and trade union issues, as well as other labour and employment matters.

The primary means of resolving disputes between employers and employees in Puerto Rico are private court litigation, administrative enforcement and arbitration. Mediation has also begun to surface as an alternative dispute-resolution mechanism.

In comparison with that in the US generally, the labour and employment field in Puerto Rico is highly regulated, and the Puerto Rican legal system is widely considered to be very protective of employees. There are numerous statutes, regulations and judicial doctrines, as well as several constitutional provisions that govern relevant matters.

Puerto Rico is considered a highly litigious jurisdiction. Employees are apt to file labour-related complaints because they can do so completely free of charge. When an employee files a complaint with the PRDLHR, it will provide the employee with free legal representation. Additionally, lawyers who handle labour-related claims on behalf of employees must work on a contingency basis, with attorneys' fees and costs for the prevailing plaintiff being paid by the employer in addition to the award for the employee. Therefore the employee does not have to pay anything, regardless of whether or not his or her claim succeeds. Although successful employers may sometimes collect costs, they cannot recover attorneys' fees from employees.

General

Workplace training is mainly voluntary, with no general statutory obligation on employers under US federal or local Puerto Rico law to provide or finance training for their employees, or right for employees to receive training. There are a few exceptions in relation to training in health-and-safety-related matters (see Puerto Rico: Health and safety > General). Collective agreements may impose training obligations on employers.

Where ex-employees who have served in the armed services exercise their right to re-employment with their former employer, the employer may be required under the relevant federal and local statutes to provide the necessary training to enable re-employment (see Puerto Rico: Employee rights > Military service and re-employment).

Discrimination in relation to training on any of the grounds protected by federal or local discrimination laws (age, race, colour, sex and so on - see Puerto Rico: Equal opportunities > General) is prohibited.

Sources/references

The Puerto Rico laws relevant to training for former servicepeople and discrimination in training are Act no. 203 of 14 December 2007 (the Bill of Rights of the Puerto Rican Veteran of the 21st Century Act) (PR Laws Ann tit. 29 §§735 et seq) and Act no. 100 of 30 June 1959, as amended (PR Laws Ann tit. 29, §§146 et seq) respectively.