REGARDING THE 2020 PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE (PUA) AND FEDERAL PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION (FPUC) PROGRAMS
Hagåtña, Guam – The Guam Department of Labor (GDOL) will stand up the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program that will assist thousands of individuals whose jobs have been impacted by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Here are the answers to common questions by employers about the assistance programs as they pertain to Guam.
Q: What is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
A: The Governor signed an agreement with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), to establish the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in Guam. It is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
The PUA program provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of COVID-19. Direct result means loss of employment or self-employment because of a reason directly related to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Q: How much are the PUA benefits?
A: The PUA program, in general, provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits. Guam’s PUA Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) is $345 a week.
Employees who have been laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 qualify for the full amount.
Employees still working but making less than $345 a week qualify for PUA minus their wages. Those making $345 or more do not qualify for PUA.
Q: What is Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation?
A: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is an emergency program designed to increase unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, including Guamanians, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the FPUC, eligible people will get an extra $600 in federal benefits each week from the start of April until July 31, 2020.
An individual is eligible for the full $600 weekly payment if the individual receives one dollar ($1) or more in PUA.
Begin gathering your documents for when the application process begins. This includes:
A photo ID such as a Guam Real ID, drivers license or Passport. If possible have two forms of ID available.
Most recent pay stubs. Collect as many as possible. For those who had reduced hours it’s best to have pay stubs to show the reduced hours as a result of the pandemic.
A letter from your employer stating furlough, lay off or reduced hours due to COVID-19. Include your name, the employer’s name and contact information. With social distancing in place, acceptable notifications from employers could be emails, pictures of handwritten letters, official letterhead type correspondence or anything that makes sense that can show proof of displacement due to the pandemic.
Q: Will the payments be retroactive?
A: Yes. The weekly payments will be retroactive during the weeks individuals qualify.
For the Self-Employed
Q: I’m self employed, do I qualify?
A: Covered individuals include the self-employed, those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, freelancers and gig-workers.
Q: What documentation do I need to show I was/am self-employed?
A: Do your best to gather these documents. Not all are necessary, but will be helpful for you application:
- Bank receipts showing deposits;
- Billing notices or statements provided by your customers;
- Recent advertisements for your services;
- Current business licenses, ledgers, contracts, invoices; or
- Mayor’s verification.
Q: If an individual is living in one state and is self-employed in another state, where should the individual file for PUA benefits?
A: The self-employed individual must file with the state where he or she was working at the time of becoming unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason listed in the CARES Act. If an individual worked in more than one state at this time, the individual may file in any of those states.
Q: As an employer, what is required of me if I have displaced employees, or workers with reduced wages due to COVID-19?
A: Based on Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s Executive Order No. 2020-07, all employers and business owners who have displaced workers are required to register on the labor department’s virtual one-stop system, hireguam.com. If you have previously registered and your account is active, you do not need to re-register.
Employers and business owners should register by following the steps indicated below:
1. Go to hireguam.com
2. Click on “Not Registered” on the homepage
3. Scroll down to Option 3 and click on “Employers and Agents”
4. Specify what type of user you are
5. Enter in your company identification information
6. Setup username and password and enter in company information
7. Click on “Save”
8. When successfully registered, you will receive a “Welcome” message in your inbox
9. Businesses will also receive an email requesting for a valid business license
Q: What if my employee quits or refuses to come back to work in order to receive the benefit?
A: Quitting work without good cause to obtain additional benefits under the CARES Act qualifies as fraud unless it’s for one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed in the CARES Act.
If an individual has obtained these benefits through fraud, the individual is ineligible for any additional benefit payments, must pay back the benefits, and is subject to criminal prosecution. States are expected to enforce these provisions.
Q: If an employee refuses to work, or return to work, due to a general fear of exposure to the coronavirus, is he or she still eligible for PUA?
A: To qualify for PUA, the individual must be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason listed in the CARES Act. An individual who does not go to work due to general concerns about exposure to COVID-19, or refuses to go back in order to collect unemployment benefits, and who does not meet any of the other COVID-19 related criteria for PUA, is not eligible for PUA.