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NMTI furloughs 18 employees

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WITH the approval of its board of trustees, the Northern Marianas Technical Institute on Friday issued furlough letters to 18 of its 28 employees.

“There is no more money coming to the institute so the best solution at this time is to furlough,” NMTI Chief Executive Officer Agnes McPhetres said.

NMTI director for administration Frank Rabauliman, for his part, said: “We do not want to terminate so [furloughs] will allow for the retention of our employees so they can come back when things are better.”

According to the policy on furloughs adopted by the board of trustees, “In special circumstances where it is necessary to reduce excess number of employees, the CEO may use furlough for up to a year if there is reasonable assurance that the employee furloughed will be returned to duty within one year.”

In her letter to the employees, McPhetres said NMTI has to reassess its program delivery and the ability of the CNMI government to continue assisting the institute during the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

“After assessing every avenue as to how our institution can wisely fulfill its mission as an educational and training institution, safeguard its financial responsibility and stability during such predicament, NMTI must implement drastic action that affects the majority of its employees,” she said.

“The board of trustees… gives the authority to the chief executive officer to furlough its employees under special circumstances. Therefore, I am informing you that effective April 17, 2020, you will be on furlough, not to exceed one year. While on furlough, you are not required to work although your current contract is still valid,” she added.

But NMTI will not “totally shut down” because four of its employees in the administrative department will continue to report for work, Monday to Thursday.

“The administrators still need to prepare for the next semester…once the governor says we’re back, we want to be ready too,” McPhetres said.

She advised the furloughed employees to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act.

“The CNMI Department of Labor is in charge of administering the relief program and is recommending that individuals who are planning to apply for PUA should prepare their document ahead of time,” McPhetres said.

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