On February 13, 2020, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources (PR DOL) published Regulation # 9162 to create and administer its Pay Equality Program ("Program" or "PEP"). The main function of the Program is to enforce and promote employer compliance with the Equal Pay Act of Puerto Rico ("EPAPR"), Act No. 16 of 2017.
As a refresher, compliance with the EPAPR is mandatory and the statute prohibits: i) wage discrimination because of sex; ii) inquiries by potential employers about the previous compensation of an employment candidate; iii) any action by the employer forbidding its employees from asking, disclosing, requesting, or discussing compensation information with other employees; and iv) termination, harassment, discrimination or retaliation against employees because of any of the provisions in the EPAPR. Violations to this statute may result in damages, payment of salary gap, mandatory double penalty, costs, expenses and fees.
As opposed to the mandatory compliance with the EPAPR provisions, employer participation in the PEP is voluntary. Under the PEP, employers can request a Certificate of Compliance with Pay Equality ("Certificate") which, once granted, provides the following benefits:
- Public recognition of the employer.
- Use of the Certification as a marketing tool.
- Reduced potential liability and the elimination of mandatory double penalties because of violations to the EPAPR.
- Reduction of risk resulting from the implementation and audit of good employment practices.
- Mandatory compliance with the Government Bidder Registry ("Registro Único de Licitadores").
- As required to qualify or apply for government programs or incentives.
The PEP establishes a procedure to request the Certification from the PR DOL and identifies information and documentation needed to support the petition.