The Governor of Puerto Rico signed into law House Bill 695, amending Puerto Rico’s Law No. 180-1998 (the Minimum Wage, Vacation and Sick Leave Law). Effective immediately, a covered employee may charge up to five (5) days against accrued sick leave, for absences required to take care of a sick spouse, parent, son or daughter. The caregiver leave may also be used to care for certain individuals under the employee’s legal custody or guardianship ( i.e., minors, persons sixty (60) years of age or more, and individuals with disabilities.)

The new caregiver leave does not apply to employers with less than 16 employees. Further, since it amends Puerto Rico’s Minimum Wage, Vacation and Sick Leave Law, only employees covered by said statute are covered.

The caregiver’s absences can only be charged against the excess of five (5) days of accrued sick leave (which means the employee must be able to maintain a minimum balance of five sick leave days).

The law also authorizes employers to require the employee to submit medical certifications attesting to the health condition of the family member requiring assistance.

The implementation of this new caregiver leave requires affected employers to revise their benefit policies. Further, employers who are also covered by the Family & Medical Leave Act need to ensure continued compliance with the federal statute.

For further information about this new Law, or should you need assistance in revising your policies, please contact any of the attorneys of the O’Neill & Borges’ Labor and Employment Department.