Employers’ Obligations Pursuant To Executive Order No. Oe-2020-062 And The Department Of Health’s Preliminary Guideline Concerning Covid-19 And Return To The Workplace

On August 20, 2020, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed Executive Order No. OE-2020-062 to implement additional restrictions to combat the spread of Covid-19 in Puerto Rico (OE-2020-062). As it pertains to employers, OE-2020-062 provides that employers must continue to comply with the Plan submitted to the PROSHA division of the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources. More importantly, employers that have a suspicious case or confirmed case of Covid-19 within their workforce, must immediately notify the Puerto Rico Department of Health to allow the Department of Health to commence any investigation and conduct contact tracing. Notifications must be sent to the following address: covidpatronos@salud.pr.gov. You can access the Form that must be completed and notified to the Department of Health by clicking on this link and downloading the Word document titled “Formulario para Patronos”.

Moreover, the Puerto Rico Department of Health published its Preliminary Guideline Concerning the Criteria that Should be Considered by Employers in Connection with the Return to Work by Employees with Confirmed or Suspicious Covid-19 Cases (“Guía Preliminar Sobre los Criterios que Debe Considerar Todo Patrono al Regreso de un Empleado con Covid-19, Sospechoso o Confirmado”). The Guideline is an adaptation of the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Per the Department of Health’s Guideline, employers should actively observe/promote the following practices:

● Instruct their employees who are ill or exhibiting Covid-19-related symptoms to stay at home;
● Instruct those with symptoms related to Covid-19 to not return to work until they have complied with the criteria to suspend isolation;
● If an employee seems to be displaying symptoms related to Covid-19 or becomes ill at work, immediately separate said employee from other employees and send the ill employee home;
● If an employee feels well and is otherwise healthy but resides with a family member who has tested positive for Covid-19, they shall notify their supervisor and remain on quarantine until they meet the criteria to suspend or terminate quarantine.

Covid-19 symptoms include: (i) fever; (ii) chills; (iii) cough; (iv) difficulty breathing;(v) feeling tired or fatigued; (vi) body aches; (vii) headaches; (viii) loss of sense of taste or smell; (ix) nasal congestion; (x) sore throat; (xi) diarrhea; (xii) nausea.

According to the Guideline of the Department of Health, the following criteria must be met before an employee who has exhibited symptoms and tested positive for Covid-19 can suspend or terminate isolation:

● 10 days have elapsed since the onset of symptoms related to Covid-19;
● At least 24 hours have passed without the employee exhibiting fever (without the aid of fever-reducing medication); and
Other symptoms (i.e., coughing, difficulty breathing) have improved. (“Otros síntomas (ej., tos, dificultad para respirar) han mejorado.”)

Those asymptomatic employees who obtained positive Covid-19 results in a molecular test may terminate isolation after 10 days from when they first tested positive for Covid-19 in a molecular test. However, if the employee develops any symptoms following a positive test result, then they shall follow the criteria for symptomatic employees on isolation described above.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the application of this new paid leave to your workforce or operations, please contact any of the following attorneys from our Labor & Employment Practice Group at your convenience:

Juan J. Casillas Ayala787 523-3439jcasillas@cstlawpr.com
Luis F. Llach-Zúñiga787 523-3498lllach@cstlawpr.com
Israel Fernández Rodríguez787-523-3437ifernandez@cstlawpr.com
Luis R. Ramos Cartagena787-523-3483lramos@cstlawpr.com


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