On Saturday, January 27, 2018, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed into law Act No. 60, establishing greater protections for non-exempt private sector employees by prohibiting employers from using sick leave to measure employees’ efficiency in their annual performance evaluations. This bill as presented to the Governor amends Article 6 of Act No. 180–1998, better known as the “Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation, and Sick Leave Act,” to include this protection.

The Act’s preamble provides that an employee has the right to use his or her sick leave when it is necessary, and that this right is threatened when an employer establishes an internal policy that considers justified absences as “irresponsible” absences in personal performance evaluations. Further, the preamble states it is contradictory for a law providing employees the right to enjoy sick leave to also allow an employer to penalize them for exercising that right. In addition, the Act’s preamble suggests that allowing an employee to work while sick could violate the individual’s civil and constitutional rights and presents a health risk to the employee’s coworkers. Moreover, the Act’s preamble notes that employers have mechanisms to verify if an employee is adequately using his or her sick leave.

In pertinent part, the amendment applies to a company’s administration and polices and prohibits employers and their supervisors or representatives from considering justified absences due to illness as a criterion in assessing employees’ efficiency in performance evaluations when they are being considered for salary increases or promotions. Further, employers cannot consider valid sick leave absences to justify disciplinary actions such as suspensions or dismissals.

The Act took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.