The U.S. government has approved $276 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for Guam. The Guam Department of Labor still is finalizing certain details, but says Guam now is one step closer to paying unemployment to thousands of workers who have been affected by the Coronavirus crisis.
The PUA will provide up to $345 a week for qualified people through the end of December. The weekly payments will be made retroactive to January, depending on the specifics of each claim.
The FPUC will provide an additional $600 a week for people who qualify through the end of July. The weekly payments will be made retroactive to January, depending on the specifics of each claim.
Generally, both programs are meant to supplement income for people who have been laid off, or their hours or rate of pay furloughed because of the Coronavirus crisis. Residents can visit the Guam Department of Labor's website at www.dol.guam.gov for information on who and how to qualify.
The USDOL intends to provide the federal PUA and FPUC funds to Guam in increments, with the initial increment to be received next week. As funding is expended, the federal government will provide additional increments to ensure benefits can be paid.
GDOL continues to finalize its online application portal to promote social distancing in addition to telephone and appointment-based options. An entire physical operations and call center will be opened for the submission, adjudication, and processing of applications and to answer questions about this new-to-Guam program.
Employers and businesses are urged to register on hireguam.com as soon as possible. Once verified, employers can input data on employees affected by the COVID-19.
Both these programs are the result of the bipartisan congressional CARES Act, which became law on March 27, 2020. Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas, the vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was instrumental in ensuring the inclusion of the territories in the unemployment programs.
The news comes exactly five days after the Guam Legislature voted 14-1 to override the governor's veto of Bill No. 333-35, now Public Law 35-86, which pushed the governor's administration to finalize its work to align Guam's program with the U.S. Department of Labor so the unemployment checks can be sent to residents. The law was authored by Sen. Therese Terlaje and was heavily criticized by the governor.
The $276 million that was approved only is a portion of the full amount Guam needs to fund the two programs through their entirety.