PR Senate Bill 849
Updated: Feb 3
To create the "Law Associated with Maternity and Other Recognized Rights" or "LA MaDRe"
On March 5, 2018, senator Juan Dalmau Ramírez introduced the S.B. 849 to create the "Law Associated with Maternity and Other Recognized Rights" or "LA MaDRe". This proposed bill intends to repeal Act No. 3 of March 3, 1942, as amended, known as the “Law of Protection to Working Mothers”, which regulates the actual eight (8) week maternity leave period applicable to the private sector, and Act No. 117 of June 30 of 1965, as amended, which regulates the maternity leave for teachers. This bill was referred to the Commission on Women’s Issues of the Senate. As of March 27, 2018, this bill is still being considered by said commission.
Senate Bill 849 intends to make uniform the maternity leave periods of the public and private sectors. If approved without amendments, the maternity leave will consist of fourteen (14) weeks that can be enjoyed in the same manner as stated in Act No. 3. The maternity leave will also continue to apply to working mothers that adopt a child of five (5) years old or less, if said child is not enrolled in an educational institute pursuant to Puerto Rico legislation and procedures.
The expecting mother can still choose to return to work, after the first two (2) weeks of leave, if she provides a health certificate. But, if the employee chooses to do this, Article 2(h) of this proposed bill gives the employee six (6) months, from the date she returns to work, to take in an uninterrupted manner the remaining period of her maternity leave. If the employee does not take the remaining period of her maternity leave in the six month period she will lose the right to enjoy the remaining time. This six (6) month grace period is not included in Act No. 3.
If the working mother has any postnatal complication that prevents her from working for a period that exceeds ten (10) weeks from the delivery date or if the newborn has any health situation that requires hospitalization for a period that exceeds the maternity leave period, Artic
le 2(j) of the above referenced bill states that the employer is obligated to extend such leave for a period that does not exceed twelve (12) additional weeks. In order to be eligible for this extension, the employee will have to provide a health certificate, before her initial maternity leave period expires. Currently, Act No. 3 provides for the extension of twelve (12) weeks, but only when the working mother has postnatal complications that prevent her from working for a period of four (4) weeks.
Through Article 4 of said bill, senator Dalmau extends the prohibition against an employer’s unjustified dismissal based on pregnancy to the working mother that is breastfeeding. Also, a poorer performance at work due to breastfeeding will not be considered as just cause for dismissal. Article 7 of S.B. 849 allows the working mother to use the summary process of Act No. 2 of October 17, 1961 to file a complaint against her employer for failing to provide a period for extracting breast milk.
There are also proposed changes to the civil responsibility of the employer. Article 5 enhances the civil responsibility of the employer to a sum no less than $3,000.00 versus the $1,000.00 provided by Act No. 3; and if damages cannot be determined the minimal sum that shall be awarded to the working mother is $3,000.00. Currently, said amount is capped at $1,000.00.
If you have any questions about Senate Bill 849 or the impact it may cause on your company, feel free to contact us at your convenience.