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Puerto Rico Secretary of Labor Announces New Unemployment Benefits Available for Private Employees

In the wake of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, the Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor (Secretary) announced today the availability of additional unemployment benefits in Puerto Rico for eligible employees, as well as self-employed workers and independent contractors, due to the enactment of the federal statute known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

Among the new unemployment-related benefits for Puerto Rico employees are:

  • a $600 supplement to state-paid unemployment compensation for those who already qualify for up to four months. This means an increase on the current Puerto Rico weekly unemployment compensation of $190 to a maximum of $790 weekly.

  • a pandemic unemployment assistance program which provides similar unemployment benefits to unemployed workers who would not normally be eligible, such as self-employed workers and independent contractors.

  • an extension of unemployment compensation by 13 weeks beyond the eligibility time provided under current law, which is 26 weeks, until December 31, 2020.

It is important to note that employees who are available to telework with pay or receive some form of sick leave or other paid leave benefits, and those who continue receiving their salary, are excluded from receiving unemployment benefit.

The Secretary noted that all that remains is for the federal government to establish the guidelines and processes for implementing these new benefits to make them effective and available to eligible individuals in Puerto Rico.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020

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About this Author

Sara Colón-Acevedo, Jackson Lewis, wage hour lawyer, employment discrimination attorney, puerto rico courts legal counsel, administrative forum law
Shareholder

Sara E. Colón-Acevedo is a Shareholder in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice concentrates in employment discrimination and wage and hour law counseling and litigation on behalf of employers in Puerto Rico local and federal courts.

Ms. Colón-Acevedo has extensive trial experience before both federal and local courts and administrative forums in Puerto Rico. She also has experienced defending employers facing collective wage and hour class actions.

In her...

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Tatiana Leal-González labor attorney Jackson lewis
Associate

Tatiana Leal-González is an Associate in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.  She focuses her practice in substantive and procedural aspects of labor and employment law litigation and has successfully defended claims against employers before federal and local court, and administrative agencies, involving complex allegations of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation, age and disability discrimination.

Ms. Leal-González frequently provides legal advice and preventive counseling to clients on a variety of employment matters, including, drafting employment contracts for high-ranking employees; negotiating terminations; imposition of progressive discipline per applicable local legal standards; and administration of statutory leaves. She also provides counseling regarding lay-offs, severance agreements, misconduct, discrimination, reasonable accommodations and other employment-related issues to prevent potential litigation. 

Ms. Leal-González also has experience advising clients on Puerto Rico employee benefits matters, including: filing of ruling requests of pension plans for qualification with Puerto Rico tax authorities; coverage determinations of Puerto Rico plans under Title IV of ERISA with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation; correction proceedings with the U.S. Department of Labor; plan administration; among other complex issues. 

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