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Puerto Rico Senate Passes Leave Benefits Bill Amid Stay-Home Decree

By on March 18, 2020

The south side of Puerto Rico’s Capitol (CB file)

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s Senate passed House Bill 2428 earlier this week to establish a special license for workers during the state of emergency and the lockdown and curfew ordered by Gov. Wanda Vázquez in an attempt to curb the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

House Bill 2428 amends Act 180 of 1998, also known as the Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation and Sick Leave Act to establish that during state of emergency declarations decreed by the governor or the Health Department secretary, employees who suffer or suspect they are suffering from the disease or epidemic that led to a state emergency declaration, can use accumulated vacation days if the worker has exhausted all sick leave days.

The bill also establishes that workers could take a special, unpaid leave for up to 20 days if they have exhausted all sick leave or vacation days.

However the Senate introduced an amendment establishing a paid five-day license if the aforementioned benefits have been exhausted.

“Amid the imminent arrival of Covid-19 in Puerto Rico, it is expected that as in other countries, a significant number of the citizens residing on the island will become infected with it,” the bill reads. “Probably, thousands of those infected are likely to be employees, both in the public and private sector.”

In the case of public workers, Gov. Wanda Vázquez issued Executive Order 2020-020 granting a special 14-day paid leave for people who are diagnosed with Covid-19.

The bill was sent to the House of Representatives to concur with the Senate’s amendments.

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