Effective on 8 August 2020, Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vazquez Garced signed into law Bill No. 2424, expanding maternity leave benefits to female employees adopting a child age 6 years or older. These working mothers are now entitled to five employer-paid weeks of leave.
The new law amends the Puerto Rico Working Mothers Protection Act (Act No. 3-1942). Currently, eight weeks of employer-paid maternity leave are available to birth mothers as well as to female employees who adopt a child age 5 or younger (under age 6), and the child is not yet enrolled in school (following 10 March 2000, amendment of Act No. 3-1942).
As of 8 August 2020, female employees adopting a child age 6 years or older are entitled to five weeks of leave regardless of whether the child is enrolled in school or not. In order to claim the leave benefit, the female employee must notify the employer at least 30 days in advance of her intention to adopt a child, plans for maternity leave and reinstatement to her job. In addition, female employees are required to provide their employers with evidence of the adoption procedures issued by a competent authority. The employer is required to pay the adopting mother her full compensation at the beginning of the leave.
The maternity leave entitlement begins the day the adopted child is received by the adopting family, even if the legal adoption process is not finalized. The new leave entitlement does not extend to working fathers adopting a child age 6 years or older.
Employers should review their leave policies to ensure compliance with the new change.