If you have any questions in regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact our offices so that we may explain the amendments to the provisions of the Code in more detail. Our address is:
Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., P.O. Box 363507, San Juan, PR 00936-3507. Our fax (787) 759-3108.
We welcome your questions and comments.
José J. Santiago
Carlos A. Padilla
Antonio L. García
February 17, 2017
NEW BILL OF RIGHTS
FOR EMPLOYEES IN DOMESTIC SERVICE
On December 28, 2016, Governor García Padilla signed Act 206 of December 28, 2016, an extensive Bill a Rights of Employees in Domestic Service. The Act defines employee in domestic service as every person recruited and who receives compensation for performing domestic service functions in a private residence. This does not include persons employed occasionally; persons who work as independent contractors; persons who perform their functions as part of a program subsidized by federal, state or municipal funds; or who perform domestic service tasks voluntarily, without remuneration. A full time employee in domestic service is one who works at least 1,820 hours in one year for the same employer. Domestic service includes cooks, waiters, butlers, servants, housekeepers, nannies, porters, washerwomen, gardeners, caregivers, drivers and handymen.
Act 206 establishes the information that must be included in a written domestic service contract. If there is no written contract, it will be presumed that it is a full time contract for an indefinite period of time when its duration exceeds over four (4) weeks, unless proven otherwise.
The Act defines eight hours a day and forty hours a week as the normal working day and week and requires employers to pay overtime at time and a half the regular rate. Overtime hours are:
1) Hours in excess of eight in any period of 24 consecutive hours.
2) Hours in excess of forty in a week;
3) Hours worked during the assigned meal period;
4) Hours worked during the assigned day or days of rest.
The law provides that domestic employees are entitled to a day of rest for each six days of work. The meal period must be no less than one hour, unless a shorter period is agreed to by the employer and the employee. The meal period may be reduced to a minimum of twenty minutes. The meal period must not begin before the end of the third hour of work and end no later than the beginning of the sixth hour of work, so that the employee does not have to work more than five consecutive hours in the day without taking his or her meal period.
The Act allows employers and employees to establish, by agreement, an alternate system of flexible work schedule to avoid technical overtime in which the hour of beginning the daily work schedule and the meal period can be moved forward or back without incurring in overtime because of the changes in the work schedule. The Act establishes that under this kind of flexitime agreement overtime hours due to shift changes would be eliminated, as long as the employee can enjoy at least 12 hours of free time between the conclusion of the daily work schedule and the beginning of work the next day.
Employers are required to pay domestic workers the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour. Wages must be paid weekly, daily or quarterly. Payment must be in cash, check, bank transfer or money order.
The Act prohibits payroll deductions prohibited by other statutes. Deductions must be agreed by the employee. The employer must maintain payroll records, including the information required by the Act, for at least three years.
Domestic employees who work at least 115 hours a month accrue 1 ¼ day of vacation leave and 1 day of sick leave per month. The Act establishes requirements for use of sick and vacation leave. Employers who do not grant vacation leave after the domestic employee has accrued 15 days must grant the leave and pay the excess of 15 days at double the regular rate.
Employers must pay the cost of required uniforms, as well of necessary equipment, including personal protection equipment.
The Act establishes additional requirements for live-in domestic employees.
The Act does not apply to independent contractors, members of religious orders, and members of religious, educational, cultural, entertainment, religious and community institutions, whether for- or non-profit, who perform charitable work. The Act does not define independent contractors.
The Act establishes a procedure for claims of violations and a three year statute of limitations for filing claims. Wage claims are limited to the last three years worked. The Act imposes a penalty for violations of twice the amount owed to the employee. The PR Secretary of Labor is instructed to adopt regulation to enforce the law and to carry out an educational campaign regarding its provisions. The Act goes into effect 120 days after its signature by the Governor, on April 28, 2017.
There are several inconsistencies between Act 286 and the recently enacted Labor transformation and Flexibility Act of 2017, which did not amend Act 286.
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