CNMI DOL: Over 400 employers register for unemployment assistance program

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OVER 400 employers have already registered for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA program, CNMI Department of Labor Secretary Vicky I. Benavente said on Wednesday.

“For me, that is a good number because every quarter, CNMI DOL receives about 900 employers’ quarterly compliance documents, so we are about halfway through the list of employers that we have in our system,” she added.

Benavente was one of the guest speakers in the Saipan Chamber of Commerce’s virtual general membership meeting on Wednesday.

She said employees can begin filing for PUA as soon as the CNMI government receives funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

She added that this might take time because there are about 40 million unemployed Americans, including 10,000 unemployment applicants  in the CNMI.

“We are in the same lineup as Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and American Samoa,” she said.

 “At this point in time, we know that qualified aliens are eligible to apply for PUA, and we understand that qualified aliens mean that someone with a green card and someone who is an [Employment Authorization Document] cardholder with a particular visa status,” she added.

But CNMI DOL has not received an official statement from  USDOL as to whether or not CW-1 employees will be eligible for PUA.

“We continue to ask, and we will continue to wait for an official statement. We encourage everyone to apply, and then we will see who will qualify,” she said.

CNMI DOL received its award notice from USDOL Regional Administrator Nicholas Lalpuis earlier this week, Benavente said, and is hoping that the money for PUA and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation will be transferred to the Commonwealth very soon.

CNMI DOL personnel, she added, have been undergoing training specifically for the handling of funds allocated for the PUA program, and are working fervently to address community concerns through their dedicated PUA phone lines: 989-9090/9084/9081/9089/9083/9080.

“I am very grateful to the administration for supporting us in going through the training, and having to do this mostly online, and then having to come back into the office to make sure that our office is retrofitted to ensure safety and health precautions in light of the fact that Covid-19 is still in the CNMI,” she said.





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