January 2023: Puerto Rico Adds Legal Protections for Interns, Right to Paid Internships

18 Jan

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Update Applicable to:
All employers with interns in Puerto Rico.

What happened?
On December 27, 2022, Governor Pedro Pierluisi signed Act 114 of 2022, known as the Puerto Rico Fair Internships Act” (Act. 114) into law, which seeks to offer compensatory protections to students who are part of internship programs where existing state and labor legislation do not.

What are the details?
Effective immediately, Article 4 of the Act states that the term “internship” refers to any program of either public or private institutions that offer to learn or work experiences to high school students, students pursuing higher education degrees, or recent graduates within a year of graduating. For an internship to be subject to this Act, it must also meet the following criteria:

  1. The internship must require ten or more hours per week,
  2. The duration of the program must be defined before it begins,
  3. The participants must have a direct supervisor,
  4. Supervisors must provide midterm and final evaluations to their participants and discuss the results with the participants to offer assistance for their development; and
  5. The program must include an educational component and mentoring initiatives related to skill development, networking, and professional development.

Internships meeting the abovementioned criteria must offer compensation to their participants. The compensation is to be calculated using the federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage, whichever is higher, or a global stipend based on the time worked that represents a sum equivalent to the minimum wage that would have been received during that period.

Act 114 also includes several exemptions for the following:

  1. Programs that are requisites for graduation or in exchange for university credits.
  2. Volunteer programs are also defined in the Act.
  3. Programs where the participant is limited to only observing employees (commonly referred to as “shadowing” programs) or where the assigned work does not require any specific skills or particular knowledge.
  4. Any volunteer or internship programs offered by federal or state departments/agencies.
  5. Non-profit organizations can meet certain criteria.

Entities seeking exemption must provide certain information, including program descriptions, work/task descriptions, duration of the program, proof of economic burdens, and reasons for the need for assistance, among others.

For more information, please see the links below:

Puerto Rico Fair Internships Act (Act. 114) (Spanish)

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and ensure they are in compliance by ensuring their interns are paid in accordance with the law.

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