Guide to Puerto Rico Employee Rights
If you are moving to Puerto Rico or recently became employed there, you should know that PR employee rights are much more extensive than in any of the 50 U.S. states. This guide will provide you with a basic overview of Puerto Rico employee rights, so that you can understand if your employer is in violation. For legal advice about your particular situation or more information on a particular aspect of PR employee rights, you may wish to consult with a labor and employment attorney.
Unlike the vast majority of U.S. states, Puerto Rico does not have “at will” employment. Instead, employees who are not given a fixed term contract are assumed to have a contract of indefinite length and are protected by Puerto Rico employee rights against termination without a good cause. In order to be fired from your job, your employer must be able to demonstrate that layoffs were needed or that you were unable or unwilling to perform your job duties as specified in your employment agreement.
These PR employee rights apply to all employees except for those who are working in their probationary period. According to Puerto Rico employee rights, an employee is under probation for the first 90 days of their employment and may be fired without good cause during this period.
While only one U.S. state (Connecticut) requires any paid leave, PR employee rights specify that employees must be given both sick and vacation leave. Every full time employee in the state who is not in a professional, administrative, or executive role must accrue a minimum of 12 days of sick leave and 15 days of vacation time per year.
Maternity leave is also required to be paid by employers. Puerto Rico employee rights allow all pregnant women to take leave 4 weeks before their due date and for up to 4 weeks after they have given birth. If the birth had complications and a woman requires additional recovery time, she has PR employee rights to an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Overtime must be paid to all employees who are not professional, administrative, or executive. Any hours worked in excess of 40 per week or 8 hours a day must be paid at a rate of one and a half time an employee's average hourly wage according to Puerto Rico employee rights. PR employee rights also require employers to pay their employees overtime for their seventh consecutive day of work.
Employees are entitled to a one hour meal break according to Puerto Rico employee rights. If you ask to have a shorter meal break, PR employee rights allow you to shorten this break to half an hour. All employees who are required to (or even allowed to) work during their meal break must be paid double time—or triple time if they are working overtime hours—for their meal break according to Puerto Rico employee rights.