Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
To help limit the spread of COVID-19, governments have implemented strict and serious measures on social distancing, population curfews and even total lockdowns. In Puerto Rico, Governor Hon. Wanda Vázquez-Garced issued a state of emergency followed by Executive Order 2020-023 (EO 2020-023), which instituted an island-wide lockdown and closure of all private and public entities to combat the spread of the virus, with limited exceptions. Due to the lockdown and closure of commercial businesses, many employers are implementing teleworking policies in order to keep their businesses running.
To this end, the Secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Labor and Human Resources issued an Opinion (Opinion 2020-01) urging employers to adopt teleworking policies to mitigate possible contagion in the workplace. Any employer that is either considering or has already allowed its employees to telework should, with the advice of counsel, adopt, revise and update their teleworking policies. Particularly for employers that do not have a teleworking policy in place, it is recommended to adopt one as soon as possible, even if it will only be temporary.
There are a number of aspects to consider for such a policy, including wage and hour issues for non-exempt employees, how to manage employee business-related expenses, potential cybersecurity and confidentiality concerns, and the need to put in place procedures for employees to securely access the employer’s server or private network.
Therefore, while teleworking can help minimize the effects of the government-imposed lockdown, it is important for employers to seek advice and ensure they have a sound teleworking policy in place.