New Leave Available For Employees To Deal With Domestic Violence, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Stalking And Child Abuse


Under recently enacted Act No. 83-2019 (the Act), employees of the public and private sector in Puerto Rico may take up to 15 days of unpaid leave each calendar year to handle situations related to domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual assault, lewd acts, felony stalking and child abuse against them, their spouse or domestic partner, their children, their parents, or other minors, elderly persons, or persons with disabilities under their custody. This leave is in addition to any other leave the employees have a right to request and applies to all employers.

The Act, effective since August 1, 2019, allows the employee to use the leave on a fractioned, flexible, or intermittent schedule. There is no minimum duration. Unused leave from one year does not accrue to the next one. The employee should notify his or her intention of taking the leave at least two days before the absence, unless there is an emergency. If the employee does not show up to work due to imminent danger, he/she must notify the employer of the situation and intention to take the leave within two days after the first day of absence. The notification can be made by phone, email, or any other type of communication, by the employee, a family member, or a professional providing help.

The employee may also request a reasonable accommodation or flexible work conditions to handle the situation, if the tasks and responsibilities of the employee allow it. The employer should grant a change of work location or schedule, the modification of assigned tasks, or any other reasonable adjustment. The accommodation request must be made in writing and should only be denied after considering every possible alternative.

There is no need to report the incident to the police in order to request the leave. However, to request the leave, the employee or his/her relatives must be the victims, and not the perpetrators, of the incident, and the time off must be used to take actions to handle the specific situation, such as seeking a protective order or other judicial order, looking for a safe place to stay, receiving medical services, seeking legal advice, or obtaining any other orientation, benefits, help, or services.

The employer may request that the employee provide evidence of the use of the time off, certifying the date and amount of hours used, which must be provided within two days after the last day of absence...

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