Client Alert
Employees are not Entitled to
Receive Payment of Accrued Sick Leave

On June 10, 2016 the Puerto Rico Supreme Court delivered a victory to employers by narrowly interpreting Puerto Rico's Minimum Wage, Vacation and Sick Leave Act (Act No. 180). The Court's decision in  Noel Zayas v. Puerto Rico Telephone Co. held that employers are not required to pay employees for their accrued sick leave when they are discharged from employment, unless required to do so under an employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, or other legally binding agreement.

Noel Zayas v. Puerto Rico Telephone Co. involved a claim brought by terminated employees challenging their former employer over their accrued sick leave. Puerto Rico Telephone Co.'s practice was to provide liquidation of accrued sick leave only to retiring employees. The plaintiffs contended that their unused sick leave days constituted a part of their salary as defined by Act No. 180 and therefore the company was banned from conditioning the liquidation of accrued sick leave.

In an opinion authored by Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez, the Court rejected the plaintiff claim and clarified that the legislative intention for allowing the accrual of sick leave was to incentivize employees to use their accumulated sick leave in an effective and adequate way when confronted with a sick-related situation. Furthermore, the Court recognized that allowing the liquidation upon termination of employment will diminish such purpose.  Also, the Court noted that Act No.180 provides a different treatment for accrued vacation leave by explicitly imposing to the employer the obligation to pay the employee the totality of the accrued vacation leave when terminated for any reason. 
We at Goldman remain committed in assisting you and your business to adjust to these changes in the Law. For further information you may contact any of the attorneys in the Labor & Employment Law Department.
Attorneys - Labor & Employment Law Department
Luis F. Antonetti-Zequeira
Vicente J. Antonetti-Zequeira
Angel Berberena-Feliciano
Lorena Cortés-Rivera
José J. Fas-Quiñones
Amelia Fortuño-Ruiz
Luis D. Ortiz-Abreu
Howard Pravda
Gabriel A. Quintero-O'Neill
Francisco M. Ramírez-Rivera
Jorge Rodríguez-Micheo
Javier G. Vázquez-Segarra

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