Labor updates criteria for unemployment benefits

CENTER: The entrance to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Center at the Dededo Public Library is shown on March 24. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The criteria to be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has been updated on hireguam.com, according to the Guam Department of Labor.

On Feb. 5, the U.S. Department of Labor approved additional eligibility criteria for PUA, and one of the most impactful was the inclusion of workers on reduced hours, the local labor department stated.

As of Sunday, the hireguam.com system modifications were completed and applicants can select the added criteria when filing claims.

The new options on the system covers:

• workers who were laid off or had their hours reduced, but their employers remain open

• workers who were denied PUA because they refused to work at a worksite that was unsafe due to COVID-19 because the employer failed to meet local safety standards

• workers who provide services to educational institutions who are out of work due to schedule volatility

• self-employed persons including freelancers, gig workers and independent contractors

For self-employed persons, the qualification is not based on hours worked. They may qualify for PUA but must show their income has been diminished significantly due to the public health emergency, the local labor department stated.

All eligibility criteria are updated on the hireguam.com system. If they do not fit your situation, select "none of the above," the local labor department stated.

The department also wants to remind those filing for PUA about the definition of "unemployed."

"When filing your application, remember that the PUA program defines unemployed as completely laid off, temporarily unemployed or working less than your pre-pandemic hours as a direct result of COVID-19," stated Guam Labor Director David Dell'Isola.

If you're working full-time, you aren't considered unemployed even if you lost a part-time job because of the pandemic, the department stated. If you worked part-time only prior to the pandemic, and are now back to working those same hours, you are also not considered unemployed, the department added.

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