Following up on its Opinion of March 13, 2020, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (PR DOL) published Opinion # 2020-02 of March 23, 2020 ("Opinion") regarding compensation to exempt and non-exempt employees in the private sector during the state mandated quarantine, the applicability of vacation and sick leaves to exempt and non-exempt employees, and the recently enacted Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020.
Employers may apply vacation and sick leave as part of the compensation granted to non-exempt employees who are not currently working. However, employers are not allowed to offset any payments against any unused vacation leave if the employee objects. The Opinion also discusses several scenarios regarding probationary employees and their use of vacation and sick leave during the crisis.
Compensation for exempt employees, as defined by Regulation 13 of the PR DOL,
is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed. Exempt employees must receive the full salary for any week in which the employee performs any work without regard to the number of days or hours worked. However, an employer may debit the employee's leave bank for a full or partial day's absence, provided the employee receives in payment an amount equal to the guaranteed salary. Without a special leave, exempt employees need not be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work.
The Opinion includes a summary and interpretation by the PR DOL regarding the applicability and compensation for full, part-time and probationary employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act of 2020. These special leaves were discussed in our March 19, 2020 Client Alert. The Opinion also restates the guidelines for employers to provide loans (salary advances), equipment, or materials related to the emergency.