January 26, 2016

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed Law No. 251 (House Bill 695), amending Puerto Rico’s existing paid sick leave law under Act No. 180 by expanding the circumstances when employees can use accrued sick leave.

As background, under Act No. 180 eligible employees accrue one day of paid sick leave for each month in which the employee works at least 115 hours. Employees who meet this threshold can accrue 12 days of sick leave a year and may roll over unused sick leave time, subject to a cap.

The amendment is effective Dec. 31, 2015, and requires employers in Puerto Rico with at least 16 employees to allow eligible employees (e.g., nonexempt employees) to use up to five days of accrued sick leave annually to care for ill qualified family members. After using accrued sick leave days for this leave, the eligible employee’s accrued sick leave may not be reduced below five days (i.e., they must retain at least five accrued sick days after they take the leave). This leave is referred to as caregiver’s leave because qualified family members include the employee’s ill spouse, parent, or child. Qualified family members also include ill minors, individuals who are 60 years of age or older and disabled individuals for which the employee has custody or legal guardianship.

This new law also expands the existing documentation requirements of Act No. 180 by allowing employers to request medical certificates from employees if absences under the new circumstances mentioned above exceed two working days.

The implementation of this new law may require affected employers to review and revise their benefit policies to be compliant with these new requirements. Employers covered by this new law that already provide compliant sick leave policies do not need to provide additional sick leave.

Law No. 251 (House Bill 695) is available only in Spanish »