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CNMI Labor preparing to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program

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(Office of the Governor) — Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced that the CNMI Department of Labor continues its ongoing preparation to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program under the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act.

Vicky I. Benavente

On March 27, 2020, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which includes the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act that creates a new temporary federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA.
On April 6, 2020, the Assistant USDOL Secretary John Pallasch, along with the Employment and Training Administration, issued an advisory regarding the CARES Act which details the PUA program’s operating, financial and reporting instructions.
“Our government is working diligently through CNMI DOL to implement this program to provide relief for eligible private sector employees who have been laid off or terminated, as well as our government employees. We continue to work with the U.S. Department of Labor on ensuring assistance for our government employees during these unprecedented times,” said Governor Torres.
CNMI DOL has been preparing the operational procedures to address the safety of the staff and the general public when the PUA application period opens.
“We are working from our homes by holding briefings and communicating with our federal counterparts to complete the PUA application and implement the PUA program in the CNMI,” said Secretary of Labor Vicky Benavente.
Benavente added, “We are aware that more than 4,000 private sector individuals have been laid off or terminated from their jobs, nearly 100 businesses have closed down, and government employees are set to be furloughed. There is no way of knowing when the CNMI economy will return to normal, judging from the scale of the number of Covid-19 cases worldwide.”
CNMI DOL is recommending that individuals who are planning to apply for the PUA program should prepare their documents ahead of time. The documents include a certification letter from their employer, a valid ID with photo, passport, copies of the latest paycheck stubs, and Social Security number.
The certification letter must state the employee’s name, title, wages, and schedule of the regular working hours, and the number of reduced hours, before the layoff or termination.
As soon as the eligibility requirements, benefits, and other information applicable to the CNMI, is provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, CNMI DOL will issue an announcement regarding the date, time, location, telephone numbers, and email addresses for the submission of a PUA application.
The CNMI DOL offices, like most of the government offices located on Capital Hill, have been closed as part of the Covid-19 response. These offices will remain closed until further notice on the PUA application.

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