• The San Juan Daily Star

Lower chamber won’t partake in extra session if convened

Rep. Domingo Torres García chairs the House Labor Affairs Committee.

By The Star Staff

The island House of Representatives will not participate in an extraordinary legislative session if the governor convenes one to approve labor reform.

House Speaker Rafael Hernández Montañez said the lower chamber already approved the bill, which was left pending in the Senate. The governor has not yet convened a special session.

House Bill 3 amends the Labor Reform Act and reverses some measures approved years ago. The bill proposes to restore the six-month probationary period for new workers, and the Christmas bonus for those who accumulate 700 work hours in large companies and 1,000 in small and midsize businesses.

In addition, it guarantees the accumulation of 1.25 days per month for vacation and sick leave for people who work full time.

In the case of part-time work, the accrual would be half a day per month of vacation and one day for sickness. The endorsed legislation re-establishes the double time payment for working 10 hours of overtime in flexible hours agreements. In the Labor Reform of 2017, the payment was only time and a half.

“The approval of these amendments advances the labor rights of the thousands of workers in Puerto Rico,” House Labor Affairs Committee Chairman Domingo Torres García highlighted earlier this month. “The final document of the bill has been discussed with union organizations and representatives of the private sector.”

Torres García said the work plan on House Bill 3 was made up of two priority areas: restoring and expanding labor rights and demanding that the Legislative Assembly exercise its investigative power to inquire about employment conditions and propose protections for the benefit of the working class.

“This measure has been worked on by the Labor Affairs Committee for more than nine months,” the lawmaker said. “In the hearings we had the total detachment to attend to the demands of all sectors to produce fair legislation that would benefit workers.”

However, the spokespeople for the New Progressive Party, Puerto Rican Independence Party and Citizen Victory Movement in the Senate decided to table the bill for a possible extraordinary session.

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