Puerto Rico Governor Declares Monkeypox State of Emergency: Why Should Employers Take Note?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Puerto Rico enacted Act No. 37-2020, which created a special five-day paid leave for non-exempt employees in the private sector. Act No. 37 amended the Puerto Rico Minimum Salary, Vacation and Sick Leave Act, by establishing a special paid leave for non-exempt employees infected (or are suspected of being infected) by an illness or epidemic that triggers a state of emergency declared by either the Governor of Puerto Rico or the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Health Department.

On September 1, 2022, Governor Pedro Pierluisi issued Executive Order 2022-044, declaring a State of Emergency in Puerto Rico as a result of the monkeypox virus and empowering the Department of Health to implement the efforts and measures necessary to safeguard the health, well-being and public safety of citizens, in the face of the increase in cases reported in recent days.  As a result of this declaration, non-exempt employees may be entitled to the special paid leave if they are infected or suspected of having been infected with monkeypox.

It is important to keep in mind that to use the special paid leave the employee must first exhaust all available accrued sick leave, as well as any other available accrued leave to which the employee is entitled. Also keep in mind that an employee’s use of the special leave cannot be used as a measure of the employee’s productivity when determining pay raises or promotions. Likewise, those absences cannot be used to justify disciplinary actions, such as suspensions or termination.

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.