Employment at Will in Puerto Rico

Employment at will  refers to the presumption that  both,  employers and workers can terminate their employment  relationship at any time, without notice and without cause, so long as it is not prohibited by a particular law (e.g.  discriminatory reasons such as age, sex or race). This historical approach does not apply in Puerto Rico.

Here, the  employment laws are different.  Local law 80 (wrongful discharge/termination) varies the employment at will doctrine  by including a statutory penalty in the form of a severance payment. This means that employers in Puerto Rico are free to terminate employees   without cause as long as they pay a severance (and no additional  laws are breached,  such as anti-discrimination statutes).

The severance under Act 80 depends on the years of service.  If the individual was employed for less than five years, he/she  is entitled to the equivalent of two month’s pay plus one week of pay for each completed year of service;  for  employees who completed at least five but less than fifteen years of service, severance equals  three months’ pay plus two weeks per year of service; and if more than fifteen years of service, the individual  is entitled to receive six months’ pay plus three weeks per completed year of service.