Guide to Puerto Rico Labor Laws About Breaks
Unlike U.S. states, Puerto Rico's territorial laws provide for a wide range of employee rights. PR labor laws about breaks are quite robust compared to those in the states, and you may be surprised how many break periods and how much paid leave you are entitled to. This guide will provide a brief overview of Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks. If you suspect your employer is violating PR labor laws about breaks, you may want to consult with a labor and employment attorney or the territorial Department of Labor.
Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks require employers to provide all employees with a meal break between their third and fifth hour of work. Generally, PR labor laws about breaks mandate that this break be one hour long, although certain occupations (like nurses) may have meal breaks as short as 20 minutes. While meal breaks do not need to be paid as long as an employee does no work during the break period, employees who are required or permitted to work must be paid double time for their break period.
Employers are also required by Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks to provide up to one hour of break time (unpaid) to all women who are breastfeeding an infant under one year of age. According to PR labor laws about breaks, women may divide this one hour of time into two 30-minute breaks or three 20-minute ones. In order to obtain breastfeeding leave, Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks require that a woman present physician's documentation to an employer showing that she is in fact breastfeeding. Some small businesses may only be required by PR labor laws about breaks to give 30 minutes of breastfeeding leave per day, divided into two 15-minute sessions.
Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks encourage employers to provide day breaks for employees for at least one day in every seven. On your seventh consecutive day of work, PR labor laws about breaks require that your employer pay you overtime wages (one and one half times your hourly rate of pay) for all hours worked.
Unlike most jurisdictions in the United States, Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks also require that employers provide their employees with annual paid leave. Employees must be able to accumulate paid leave at a rate of 15 vacation days and 12 sick days per year at minimum. Employment contracts may specify additional vacation or sick time. Paid leave is also available for women who are having children: 8 weeks of paid maternity leave is divided into 4 weeks before the birth and 4 weeks after it. These PR labor laws about breaks are unlike any labor laws in any U.S. state and provide employees with substantial rights.
Rest breaks are not provided for by Puerto Rico labor laws about breaks. If your employer does allow a rest break of less than 20 minutes for employees, both federal and PR labor laws about breaks require the break to be paid.