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DHR issues guidance on unemployment programs for ASG workers

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga
“May assist some — but not all — furloughed employees”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG Human Resources released last week an advisory to assist government departments and agencies responding to any concerns and inquiries related to the COVID-19 declarations.

The advisory, issued through the governor’s June 1st memo addressed to cabinet members, provides guidance on the recent furloughs and two federal unemployment benefit programs for workers impacted with the coronavirus pandemic.

The two federal programs, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) were created by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act and provide financial relief to individuals whose employment was affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was made clear in the advisory that these two federal programs “may assist some — but not all — furloughed employees.”

According to the governor’s memo, DHR will contact each department about when and where a list of employees may report to file their claims at approved sites: Tafuna Elementary gym, Samoan High School and Aua Elementary on: June 8, June 10, and June 12th. The sites will be open from 8a.m to 3:00p.m.

Private sector employees will not be accepted during these dates for filing their claims, and anyone turning up on the dates reserved for ASG employees’ filings will be turned away, according to the memo. (See Samoa News edition last Friday regarding private sector employee advisory.)

In the memo, the governor points out that all departments are “required” to coordinate with DHR on “procedural intake and scheduling to minimize mass gatherings and interpersonal exposure beyond the limits as outlined in provisions of the Fifth Amended emergency declaration — in other words, fewer than 150 people at public gatherings and all must observe social distancing.

According to the governor, DHR is responsible for establishing and administering procedures for operational control and quality assurance of the PUA and FPUC programs for ASG employees who have become “unemployed, partially employed, self-employed or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19.”

However, this “does not apply to [ASG] employees on 50/50 [format work] schedule who continue to receive full pay,” he said.

His memo also outlined 12 requirements for eligibility and top of the list is that the employee must be a US citizen, US national or US permanent resident – having American Samoa permanent residency or having a valid American Samoa Immigration ID alone “does NOT qualify”. To qualify an individual must also qualify under one of the following:

Other criteria includes:

Employee who has a child in their household, for which the employee is the primary caregiver, who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and childcare is required for the employee to work.

Employee who is unable to reach their work place due to imposed quarantine measures as a result of COVID-19 declaration.

Employee who is unable to work under advisement of a health care  provider to self-quarantine.

Employee who is scheduled to begin employment and doesn’t have a job or is unable to reach his/ her job as a result of COVID-19.

Employee who had quit the job as a direct result of COVID-19.

Employee whose place of employment is closed, resulting in unemployment or partial employment, as a direct result of the COVID-19 declaration.

Private contractors/ self-employed with severely limited ability to continue performing customary job as a direct result of COVI-19.

If you have questions - both public and private employees - contact DHR at 633-04485 or email or