Gov. Benigno R. Fitial issued a memorandum on Wednesday to clarify the restoration of paid legal holidays and 80 work hours every payroll for government employees in fiscal year 2013 that started on Oct. 1.
For the past two years, most employees were subjected to 64 work hours-and later to 72 work hours-per payroll as part of the Fitial administration's austerity measures to cope with limited resources.
“It has been brought to my attention that there appears to be some confusion in regards to regular work hour and legal holidays for fiscal year 2013. So as to ensure that all government employees are made aware of, please be advised of the following: Government employees' work hours have now been restored to 80 hours per pay period,” Fitial said in his Oct. 3 memo, a copy of which was obtained Thursday.
The governor also said that “all legal holidays have now been restored to paid holidays.”
“Employees no longer have to apply for annual leave to be compensated for holidays,” he added.
Fitial said he and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos thank all government employees for their “patience during the period of austerity and above all, for your continued commitment to delivering much needed services to the people of the Commonwealth.”
House Commerce and Tourism Committee chair Edmund Villagomez (Cov-Saipan), in an interview Thursday, said full 80 work hours every pay period is always good news to government employees.
But he said the governor's budget message that says he may adjust government work hours at some point in fiscal year 2013 begs the question, “Is [80 hours] realistic?”
Villagomez, however, said he's optimistic that the improved tourism arrivals, among other things, are among the “signs of good things ahead.”
The governor signed the fiscal year 2013 budget law on the deadline date of Sept. 30, barely two days after the House and Senate passed the spending measure.
Despite his concerns about the $114-million budget bill that the Legislature passed “on the 11th hour,” the governor signed the bill into law to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1. A shutdown would have forced over 1,500 government employees out of jobs for days until a new budget is in place. In 2010, a non-election year, the House and Senate were deadlocked on a budget bill that resulted in a partial shutdown for more than a week.