OPM: Some furloughed employees seek help in applying for PUA/FPUC

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SOME furloughed government employees are having a problem applying for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, the Office of Personnel Management officials told senators last week.

Over 500 government employees — 281 civil service and 231 excepted service employees — were furloughed due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the CNMI economy and the government revenue collections.

During a meeting with the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee last week, OPM acting Director Frances Salas said several government employees who were furloughed requested OPM to change the effective date of their termination “to reflect an earlier date so that they would qualify for the benefits sooner.”

But Salas said the effective date of termination could not be modified.

According to the Office of the Governor, PUA is payable beginning on or after January 27, 2020 and ending on or before December 31, 2020. The duration of PUA benefits payable to an individual is generally limited to 39 weeks.

As for the FPUC, for the CNMI, it is payable only for weeks of unemployment beginning on or after the date on which the entity enters into a PUA agreement with the U.S. Labor Department, which is March 29, 2020. FPUC is not payable to any individual for any week of unemployment ending after July 31, 2020.

The chairman of the Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee, Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider, said in an interview that he will again invite the OPM officials for another meeting.

“There are significant revelations made during our recent meeting, and it appears there’s a lot of work ahead of us,” he added.

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