First Law: No Bias Permitted for Using Justified Sick Leave
Employers will have to review the criteria used when evaluating employees' performance. A recently enacted law which amends Article 6 of the Law No. 180-1998, known as the "Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation, and Sick Leave Act"-provides employees greater protection when their absence from work is backed by a medical certificate. The law states that private sector employers may not consider sick leave to measure non-exempt employees' efficiency in annual performance evaluations. It prohibits employers from considering justified illness related absences when assessing employees' performance for purposes of promotions or salary increases.
Employees have a civil and constitutional right to use their sick leave when justified, these rights are threatened when employers' internal policies regard these absences as "irresponsible".
Second Law: Additional Sick Leave for Catastrophic Illnesses
Governor Rosselló also signed into Law
Senate Bill No. 461, which provides an additional six (6) days of paid leave when an employee has used all of his or her accrued sick leave. This paid leave can only be used when an employee suffers from one or more of the fifteen (15) catastrophic illnesses listed in the law. These are: (1) acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); (2) tuberculosis; (3) leprosy; (4) lupus; (5) cystic fibrosis; (6) cancer; (7) hemophilia; (8) aplastic anemia; (9) arthritis rheumatoid; (10) autism; (11) post organ transplant care; (12) scleroderma; (13) multiple sclerosis; (14) lateral amyotrophic sclerosis; and (15) chronic renal disease, phases 3, 4 and 5.
The additional six (6) days of paid sick leave apply to both public and private sector employees. Employees will accrue this extension after twelve (12) months of employment, but only if they work no less than one hundred and thirty (130) hours a month. These additional days cannot be accrued or transferred to subsequent years, nor paid off if unused.
Caution: The enactment of these two (2) laws require employers to modify and update their internal policies and employee handbooks for compliance.
The attorneys at Goldman Antonetti & Córdova Labor & Employment Law Department will be able to assist in updating your policies.
As always, we will continue to keep you informed of all developments regarding applicable labor laws.
These statutes have not yet been assigned a number.