Puerto Rico: Right to Religious Freedom Accommodations

APPLIES TO

All Employers with PR Employees

EFFECTIVE

May 25, 2017

QUESTIONS?

Contact HR On-Call

(888) 378-2456

Though the Labor Transformation and Flexibility Act (the “Act”) makes numerous changes to Puerto Rico employment laws, of note is the fact the Act provides employees a new, statutory right to request accommodations for the purpose of participating in religious activities.  Effective May 25, 2017, employers will be required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious practice.

The Act sets forth the procedure for making and responding to religious accommodation requests.

If an employee makes a request for an accommodation, employers are required to respond, in writing, within seven business days, though this time period may be shorter depending on the nature of the request.  If the employer fails to provide a written response, it will be assumed the employer accepts and will grant the accommodation request.

If the request is denied, the employer must provide, in writing, a detailed explanation why the requested accommodation was unreasonable.  Note that the Act states that the employee’s preferred accommodation must be granted, unless the employer can prove that, compared to all alternative reasonable accommodation methods, the employee’s preferred method poses undue hardship.

If unable to agree upon a reasonable accommodation, employees can file a claim with the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources.  Employers who fail to engage in the accommodation process, or who retaliate against employees for requesting an accommodation, may face an administrative penalty from $1,000 to $5,000.

 Action Items

  1. Review the text of the Act here.
  2. Arrange for training of managers and supervisory staff on the interactive process for requesting an accommodation.
  3. Have employee handbooks or other policy documents updated to inform employees of the religious accommodation request procedure.
  4. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2017 ManagEase, Incorporated.

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