Labor: Vacation pay will affect eligibility for PUA

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The CNMI Department of Labor confirmed at the Saipan Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting last Wednesday that vacation pay and sick leave pay could affect one’s eligibility to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

In the meeting that was held virtually, Eugene Tebuteb, Department of Labor Employment Services director, confirmed that vacation pay and sick leave pay should be reported when applying for PUA and this could impact one’s eligibility. Tebuteb, however, did not elaborate hon this subject.

According to Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, who was also one of the guest speakers at the meeting, those who still need assistance in filling out PUA application forms, both online and physical application, may call Labor and that they are open to answering any questions to the best of their abilities. Benavente added that their office is open, but with strict social distancing protocols in place.

“We can assist PUA applicants when you come up to the department. We will assist you with your inquiries…but please be patient, we are trying to assist everyone,” she said. Benavente said she is aware and understands the frustration that many are having with the application process and encourages those who are having trouble, if it’s possible, to wait until all the kinks are worked out.

“The deadline to apply for PUA is December so it would be a wise decision to wait a couple of more weeks until we iron out the technical difficulties,” she said.

As of last Monday, over 5,000 online and physical PUA application have been submitted, Benavente said, and DOL is trying to sift through these applications as quickly as possible to get payments out to the public, soon.

However, of the over 5,000 applications, less than 1,000 are considered “complete.” Individuals with “complete” applications can expect their first PUA payment in the next seven to eight days.

“The numbers are really low because the majority of applications are incomplete so I’m going to estimate less than 1,000 are complete, so these are going to be processed quicker than the incomplete applications. For the complete applications, payments will be made between seven to eight days, so let me stress, complete applications will be processed fairly quickly. [For] incomplete [applications], we have to call our clients to bring this document or letter or whatever is incomplete,” she said.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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