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.
The Puerto Rican government recently enacted Act 92, which establishes a debt payment incentive plan (the “Plan”) for employers in Puerto Rico that have outstanding debts with the Puerto Rico State Insurance Fund Corporation (“SIFC”). Under Puerto Rican law, workers' compensation can only be obtained through the SIFC, a government-owned corporation.1 In the event of a work-related accident at an uninsured employer, the SIFC nevertheless covers that accident and seeks reimbursement from the uninsured employer for any compensation plus medical expenses the SIFC incurred. The SIFC collects such amounts and deposits them into the Uninsured-Employer Cases Fund.
According to the Plan, employers now may pay a 50% discounted rate for outstanding debt owed to the SIFC related to: (i) payments of workers' compensation policy premiums; (ii) amounts owed as a result of employers declared uninsured; (iii) employer responsibility or any other responsibility related to workers' compensation; or (iv) any miscellaneous debt imposed by the SIFC related to workers' compensation, provided certain requirements are met.
The 50% discount rate under the Plan will apply for outstanding workers' compensation-related debts incurred no more than 15 years ago (i.e., back to fiscal year 2001-2002), except for debts incurred during fiscal year 2016-2017. Debts older than 15 years will be forgiven, provided the employer satisfies the more recent debt obligations through the Plan.
To qualify for the 50% percent discount under the Plan, employers should have already filed the Payroll Statement corresponding to fiscal year 2016-2017 within the time prescribed by law and paid the corresponding premium and any other debt with the SIFC corresponding to fiscal year 2016-2017.
Because the 50% discount under the Plan will only be available for covered items if all other debt is paid in its entirety, no installments payment plans will be allowed. However, employers currently under an installment payment plan may pay the remaining balance under the Plan and still take advantage of the discount.
Any type of outstanding debt imposed as a result of a final judgment or resolution issued by a court or an administrative forum may also be paid at a discounted rate. In such cases, the total amount determined through a judgment or resolution may be subject to the Plan (principal, interests, penalties, legal expenses, attorney’s fees or any other amount imposed), except for the amounts already paid. However, debts that are currently under judicial or administrative review may not be paid through the Plan.
There will be no reimbursements or credits for amounts paid through the Plan.
Employers have 120 days beginning on September 1, 2017 (i.e., until December 30, 2017) to take advantage of this discount. However, an extension of this deadline is expected given the recent hurricane. We will monitor the situation and report on any revised deadlines.
1 There are two types of employers: (1) insured employers and (2) uninsured employers. An uninsured employer is an employer that is not insured by the SIFC because it has not requested and paid a workers' compensation policy with the SIFC, or did not file the Annual Payroll Statement and paid the premium within the time period required by the statute.