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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Fiscal board may go to court if labor reform bill becomes law

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

The Financial Oversight and Management Board may take legal action against a new labor reform bill if Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia signs it into law.

The oversight board’s remarks related to House Bill 1244 are contained in a motion filed in bankruptcy court this week.

The oversight board said its relationship with the government continues to be collaborative and that it is working closely with Pierluisi and the rest of the commonwealth administration.

“The [oversight board] and government remain in agreement that the health, safety, and economic welfare of the people of Puerto Rico must be the priority,” the motion reads. “Governor Pierluisi is serving as his own ex officio representative on the [oversight board], which affords more opportunity for direct interactions, and sharing of viewpoints and insights on important issues.”

That said, the island Legislature continues to propose and pass bills the oversight board said it has determined would impair or defeat the purposes of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), such as a bill that would exacerbate the commonwealth’s current labor law by disallowing termination of employment at will even when there is no discrimination or other illegal motive.

“The [oversight board] is extremely concerned legislation such as this may substantially deter investment in Puerto Rico and all the jobs and economic growth and prosperity it would create for the people,” the motion reads. “If, contrary to PROMESA section 108(b)(2), these bills become laws, the [oversight board] will consider taking appropriate action.”

In the past, the oversight board has sued to stop the government from implementing laws that go against the fiscal plan.

The governor had previously vetoed similar legislation and the bill was reintroduced. The governor insisted on establishing a uniform probationary period of six months for exempt and nonexempt employees and to standardize the 700-hour requirement applicable to employees of a private company to be entitled to the payment of the Christmas bonus. Likewise, he wanted the requirement of 115 hours per month of work to be able to accumulate vacation time and that the accumulation be at the rate of 1 ¼ days for each month worked.

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