L&E Legal Alert! Emergency Dengue Fever Leave Provisions Effective Immediately in Puerto Rico

On March 25, 2024, the Department of Health of Puerto Rico issued Administrative Order 2024-589 (“AO 2024-589”) to declare a public health emergency for Dengue Fever in Puerto Rico due to a significant increase in reported cases. OA 2024-589 is effective immediately and will be in effect for ninety (90) days.

The purpose of OA 2024-589 is to “carry out all efforts and implement all necessary measures to safeguard the health, welfare and public safety of our citizens”. Preventive measures against the dengue virus were directed, including: (1) educating the population and healthcare providers, (2) implementing vector control measures in accordance with regulations set by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health, (3) eliminating mosquito breeding sites in public areas and, (4) removing debris in dengue priority areas.

Employers should take note of Act No. 37-2020, which amended Article 6 of Act No. 180-1998 concerning Vacation, Sick Leave, and Unpaid Emergency Leave Provisions. This amendment grants an additional leave of five (5) days to employees who suffer from or are suspected of suffering from the disease or epidemic causing the state of emergency, once their regular sick leave is exhausted. It is crucial to emphasize that employers are prohibited from considering absences due to illness or special emergency leave as grounds for disciplinary actions such as suspensions or dismissals.

Our Labor & Employment practice group is available to answer any question or assist with the implementation of these new amendments.

Please contact us at labor@estrellallc.com.