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ASG employees stranded off island “will continue to be paid”

Gov. Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga
If “diligently attempting to return” or working remotely

Pago Pago, AMERICA SAMOA — ASG employees stranded off island, due to border-closer, “will continue to be paid so long as they are diligently attempting to return to the Territory or so long as they are working remotely as authorized by their director,” Gov. Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga declared in his Feb. 16th memorandum released by the Governor’s Office yesterday.

“If an employee does not take action to return to the Territory as soon as practical, then actions may be taken to separate [that individual] from [government] service,” pursuant to local law, according to the governor in his memo — titled “Repatriation of Employees” — sent to cabinet directors.

The governor recalled that when borders closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, some ASG employees were stranded off island and a memo issued last year — by then-Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga — allowed those employees to continue to receive their paychecks.

He points out that currently the territory has a repatriation program to bring residents home.

The governor directed that all employees who are still being paid while off island are to apply for repatriation and to contact their directors for further instructions. Employees who are unable to return, are directed by the governor to contact their director “regarding the challenges that are preventing their return” home.

“Directors should handle those situations on a case-by-case basis. Consideration should be given to the amount of an employee’s duties that could be conducted remotely,” said Lemanu.

And directors or their designees should reach out to their off-island employees to facilitate their return to the territory. “Directors are encouraged, to the extent that it is practical, to keep their employees engaged in work remotely until they return [home],” he said, and noted that his memo supersedes the one issued last year.

No details have been made available by the government as to the number of ASG employees stranded off island when borders closed in March last year and how many are still off island following the first repatriation flight on Feb. 1st.