- Body: P.R. House of Representatives.
- Filing date: Bill 1356: May 13, 2022.
- Authors: Bill 1356: representatives Rafael Hernández Montañez, Domingo J. Torres García, Jesús Santa Rodríguez, Ángel N. Matos García, and Jessie Cortés Ramos.
- Status: Bill 1356: On December 7, 2022, it was sent to the Governor of Puerto Rico.
In the context of the private sector, there is no formal legal framework that encompasses or guides employers in the implementation of remote work. Current employment legislation does not prohibit remote work, but there are no specific parameters that apply to those local and foreign employees, contractors or employers who consider the feasibility of implementing remote work, from home or not.
This bill fills that gap and establishes the minimum statutory framework for remote work in the private sector and creates guidelines and parameters to facilitate the implementation of such arrangement, clarifies the applicability of statutory provisions in terms of labor and tax protection legislation; reiterates the right to provide services for an employer or contractor from one’s own home, among other purposes.
This bill facilitates, promotes and encourages work from home or remote work, through worker-employer agreements in the private sector, within or out of the jurisdictions of Puerto Rico, in exchange for income, compensation or remuneration for the performance or provision of said functions or services, provided that such alternative does not represent an undue burden for any of the parties in an employee-employer, contractual or service provision relationship.
Under this bill, an undue burden shall be construed as one that entails for any of the parties involved an unreasonable effort to make feasible the implementation of work from home or remote work. It will be presumed that incurring unforeseen or excessive expenses, as well as, risking a negative impact on the operations or in the ordinary course of doing business of an employer, business or commerce will represent an unreasonable burden.
Additionally, this bill establishes that no employer will be obliged to implement remote work, regardless of whether it represents an undue burden or not. However, a request for transition to remote work or work from home may not be denied capriciously or without justification, by a business, employer, commerce, corporation, or society to which the provisions of this legislation and other current legislation of Puerto Rico are applicable.
Pursuant to the foregoing, Article 6 of this bill provides a non-exhaustive list of reasons that will not be considered unjustified or capricious when a request for remote work or work from home is denied by an employer, or business. Said Article must be expressly incorporated into the employment contract and/or the employment regulations.
A request for work from home or remote work by an employee of an employer, business or individual under the jurisdiction of Puerto Rico will be covered by the protection against retaliation established in Act No. 115-1991, as amended, known as the “Law against Unjustified Dismissal or Retaliation of All Employees for Offering Testimony before a Legislative, Administrative or Judicial Forum” and, by Article 10 of Act No. 379 of May 15, 1948, as amended, known as the “Act to Establish Work Hours in Puerto Rico”.
Furthermore, this bill amends Article 2 of Act No. 45 of April 18, 1935, to include that the dispositions of this proposed legislation will be applicable to all workers and employees who work for the employers referred to in said statute, who suffer injuries and become disabled, or who lose their lives due to accidents arising from any act or function inherent to their work or employment and which occur in the course of it, and as a consequence thereof or due to illnesses or death derived from the occupation, as specified. The provisions of this legislation shall also be applicable to the owner of any business, industry or individual employer who works full-time in said business or industry and whose gross income does not exceed one million ($1,000,000) dollars. Expressly excepted are those workers and employees whose work is of an accidental or casual nature and is not included within the business, industry, profession, or occupation of their employer. Also, this legislation shall be applicable to any employer who employs one or more workers or employees included therein, regardless of their salary. Expressly excepted from the application of this legislation are those foreign employers who are not engaged in industry or business in Puerto Rico, nor in the business of sales of taxable items in Puerto Rico, provided that the salary, income, compensation or profit of their employees or contractors does not come from Puerto Rico sources.
If you have any questions about H.R. Bill 1356 and the impact it may have on your company, feel free to contact SMC at (787) 765-5656.