Newly enacted Act 37-2020 (the “Act”) requires private employers in Puerto Rico to provide emergency paid leave for an additional five days to employees who suffer or are suspected to suffer from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), if the illness persists after they have exhausted their accrued sick leave and any other accrued leave the employee may have the right to use.The Act became effective on April 9, 2020, and amends Article 6 of Act 180-1998, which regulates minimum wage, sick leave, and vacation time in Puerto Rico. The Act will also apply in case of future epidemics as a result of which the Puerto Rican government declares a state of emergency. The Puerto Rican government declared such a state of emergency in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, 2020. On March 15, 2020, it ordered a general lockdown and curfew, both of which will remain in effect until May 3, 2020.The additional paid leave under the Act applies only to employees who are sick or may be sick and requires that they already have exhausted other available leaves, including leave authorized under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), if applicable.Because vacation leave may only be requested by employees (and may not be required by the employer), employees may be entitled to request vacation leave for additional days absent from work after exhausting any applicable leave time under the FFCRA, their accrued sick leave, and the new emergency sick leave. Use of this leave time may not be considered adversely in the employee’s performance appraisals.For additional information, please review our previous alert Coronavirus: New emergency leaves take effect in Puerto Rico.If you have any questions regarding these new requirements and their implications, please contact the authors, any member of the DLA Piper Employment group, or your DLA Piper relationship attorney.
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This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. No reader should act, or refrain from acting, with respect to any particular legal matter on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.