Friday, November 22, 2019

Senators seek to restore public employee-leave days

By on August 20, 2019

The Puerto Rico Senate (Courtesy photo)

Propose 2.5 vacation days per month worked, 1.5 days for sick leave

SAN JUAN — Public employees could re-accumulate vacation leave at a rate of two and a half days for each month of service, if the Senate Bill 1341, introduced Monday, is passed, under the “by petition” concept by Sens. Luis Berdiel Rivera, Ángel “Chayanne” Martínez Santiago and Carlos Rodríguez Mateo.

Currently, public employees accrue two days of vacation leave for every month worked, while one day of sick leave is granted per month.

The proposal presented to lawmakers and introduced by the three senators in the Office of Record and Procedures is to provide that 2.5 days of vacation for each month of service be accumulated up to a maximum of 60 days at the end of each calendar year. In addition, vacation leave would begin to accrue once a regular worker has been employed for three months, but will be retroactive to their start date. Sick leave, meanwhile, would be accumulated at the rate of 1.5 days for each month of service.

Berdiel, a senator for the District of Ponce, said he received requests from several citizens and public employees for the bill to be filed by petition.

“There is a Puerto Rico before and after Hurricane Maria. When we passed the ‘Law for the Administration and Transformation of Human Resources in Government’ at the beginning of 2017, nobody thought about how the labor landscape would look on our Island starting in December 2017. Many had to leave for the United States in search of a better life and others, like our public employees, decided to stay to continue forging a future here in Puerto Rico. That is why I recognize that, although it is true that the economy in our country is improving, the provisions of said 2017 Law on vacation and sick leave benefits have had a negative impact on public employees entering the current labor force. I thank my fellow Senators Chayanne Martínez and Rodríguez Mateo for joining this citizen petition and understanding that, just as has been requested of us, there is a return to the previous scheme of accumulation of benefits,” Berdiel said in a Senate-issued press release.

The release added that “as soon as the legislative piece is received” by the full Senate, it will be assigned to a committee for evaluation.

The island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board is sure to chime in were the Senate measure approved, as it could be in violation of its certified fiscal plan and budget.

The board requires that measures are consistent with the fiscal plan and budgets “as required by” the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act’s section 204(c), the panel has repeatedly said.

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