FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 26, 2021
Hagåtña, Guam – On February 1, 2021, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero wrote to Acting Secretary of Labor Al Stewart to establish additional qualifying circumstances to allow eligibility for employees who work reduced hours at businesses and organizations that are not closed.
Governor Leon Guerrero penned the letter after Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) No. 16-20 Change 4 was issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), which stated its interpretation of Section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(jj) would require the closure of a place of employment for its employees to be eligible for assistance. This interpretation adversely impacted many employees working reduced hours.
Today, in UIPL 16-20 No. 16-20 Change 5, the USDOL approved the following COVID-19 related reason for an individual to self-certify for PUA eligibility: “An individual is an employee and their hours have been reduced or the individual was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
“This issue has undoubtedly caused hardship and fear for so many of our families. We welcome this news from the US Department of Labor, and we are grateful for their quick and favorable response to my request in ensuring both our unemployed and underemployed receive financial support as we transition into recovery,” said Governor Leon Guerrero.
Lt. Governor Josh Tenorio states, “These events have really underscored the need for Guam to establish its own unemployment insurance program. COVID-19 has revealed gaps in our overall social infrastructure that can be closed with a local UI program to ensure that individuals and families who need them the most receive guaranteed and timely benefits.”