GDOL: Unemployment filing system goes live midnight Friday

FRIDAY: Filing of unemployment claims will begin at midnight Friday, according to the Guam Department of Labor. Post file photo

When 12 midnight strikes Friday, the hireguam.com portal will begin accepting federal unemployment claims, Guam Labor Director David Dell'Isola said.

The initial opening of filing was set for late Thursday morning, but this was moved to Friday night to allow for additional "minor tweaks" to ensure the filing process goes smoothly, he said.

"The system will go live at midnight Friday," Dell'Isola said.

People who are still jobless or on furlough as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be able to start filing for additional or new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims under the extended relief program.

Dell'Isola reminded those who are now back on the job, regardless of work hour reductions, are no longer eligible to apply for and receive PUA based on revised Jan. 8, 2021 U.S. Department of Labor guidelines. 

Those who do may face overpayment, he said.

"Like I said, it's a decision we don't like and don't agree with but we have to follow the USDOL guidelines. Unless a fix is found, whether administrative or legislative, this is what we're going to follow," Dell'Isola told The Guam Daily Post.

Self-employed individuals whose income are still diminished because of the pandemic are still allowed to file and receive PUA, he said.

Delegate Michael San Nicolas earlier said those with reduced work hours should continue to document their work hours and situation so that when eligibility requirements are further clarified, it would be easy for them to file their claims.

In the event the USDOL guidelines are confirmed, he said, then he would have to wait for the incoming Biden administration to help make the necessary changes to continue benefits for those with reduced work hours.

Dell'Isola said GDOL would like to release unemployment benefits as soon as possible to the fully unemployed individuals, and batching of claims for payment will begin on Tuesday.

'Unfair'

The extended PUA of $345 a week will cover unemployment through March 13 on Guam.

In addition, PUA recipients will also be eligible to get Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $300 a week also through March 13.

The $645 weekly PUA and FPUC benefits that the unemployed will be eligible to receive is much higher than the actual salary of many of those who are now back on the job but only have 20 hours or less work hours a week which could be less than $200.

This is why those on reduced work hours call the eligibility change "unfair" and "disappointing."

Those who were on reduced work hours previously were allowed to file and receive PUA and FPUC benefits, as well as Lost Wages Assistance.

With Guam moving to Pandemic Condition of Readiness 2 on Monday, GDOL's satellite PUA center at Dededo Library will continue to accept appointments for those with issues or concerns with their PUA claims.

Walk-ins are still not allowed at this point.

This story will be updated.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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