PUA

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Individuals on the job, even if they are on extremely reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will no longer qualify for the extended federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, according to Guam Labor Director David Dell'Isola.

Thousands will be impacted by this major change in the extended PUA program, which is part of a massive pandemic relief package.

"It's not something we're happy with but it's their program and it's their money. We're just the steward," Dell'Isola told The Guam Daily Post, as people have started taking to social media to vent their frustration with the change.

This could only be changed, he said, through an act of Congress, the same way Congress extended the PUA program, he said.

The online system could start opening up for PUA claims by "late morning Thursday," Dell'Isola said. This could still change, he said.

People who are still unemployed or are still on furlough because of the pandemic are qualified to apply for the extended PUA, Dell'Isola said.

Self-employed individuals are also still qualified for PUA, provided their income is still at severely diminished level because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Right now, there is no distinction between those who are actively looking for a job and those who are not, to be eligible for PUA.

But as Guam lifts more social restrictions, the work-search requirement could kick in, the Labor director said, although that's up to the governor to decide.

Dell'Isola also said as day cares and schools fully reopen, people can no longer use the closure of day care centers as an excuse to not go back to work, or work at all.

The Guam Department of Labor will be issuing more information on the topic.

GDOL distributed some $503 million in federal unemployment assistance to some 27,000 pandemic-displaced workers on Guam since June. 

Moreover, Labor will batch claims for payments on Tuesday.

Other pointers:

  • The last week of payable unemployment is the week ending March 13, a Saturday.
  • Extends maximum unemployment benefit from 39 weeks to 50 weeks. Claimants may only collect these additional 11 weeks of benefits with respect to weeks of unemployment beginning on or after Dec. 27, 2020.
  • The new law limits the availability of backdating for claims that are filed after Dec. 27, 2020, to no earlier than Dec. 1, 2020.

This story will be updated.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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