(Hagåtña, Guam) – Ensuring Guam’s employees are provided the proper hazardous compensation for responding to COVID-19 and providing exemptions for the Guam Department of Education are measures by Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson that were passed by lawmakers during emergency session on Thursday.
Bill 326, which entitles certain essential employees to COVID-19 hazardous pay differential, passed unanimously. The compensation provides the following to eligible employees:
· Category 1: 25 percent hazardous pay differential to essential employees, who in the course of their duties, are in direct contact or in close physical proximity to a population infected with or may be reasonably suspected to be infected with COVID-19. Such positions may include, but not be limited to, sworn public safety/law enforcement officers, healthcare providers, and other positions performing essential critical mission duties
· Category 2: 15 percent hazardous pay differential to essential employees, who in the course of their duties, may incidentally come into contact with or close physical proximity to a population infected with or may be reasonably suspected to be infected with COVID-19. These employees may also be providing humanitarian services or direct public assistance to the general public
· Category 3: 10 percent hazardous pay differential to essential employees whose positions do not allow them to telework and are mandated to perform their job duties at physical worksites pre-determined by their agency heads, as required by the government of Guam's response to the COVID-pandemic
· Double Payment: The Department of Administration is authorized to issue payment at double the regular rate of pay during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including for employees eligible under COVID-19 hazardous pay differential
“This measure ensures all of our COVID-19 responders are rightfully compensated for courageously carrying out extraordinary duties under extraordinary circumstances,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson. “Un Dångkulu Na Si Yu’os Ma’åse’ and thank you to our heroes on the frontlines. You each have made and continue to make great sacrifices to help provide essential services, protect our island community and directly assist in our fight against COVID-19.”
The director or agency head of eligible employees, within 10 days of the bill’s enactment into law, shall create rules and regulations to determine the positions deemed “essential” under each category. The hazardous pay differential is retroactive to the Governor’s declaration of a State of Emergency, on March 14, 2020. The Governor is additionally required to submit a report to the 35th Guam Legislature 15 days after the public health emergency is lifted, indicating all expenditures incurred from COVID-19 hazardous differential, in addition to all transfers from the General or Special Funds and reimbursements from the federal government.
“Our frontline responders and essential workers take great personal risks and sacrifice precious time away from their families to carry out the work that must go on. To these heroes who continue to display courage and uphold their commitment to our people: know that no matter what you do, you have saved lives and livelihoods, and you will always have our island’s gratitude,” Nelson said.
Bills 332-35 and 339-35, each passed unanimously, respectively exempt 12th grade public school students from service learning requirements provided that they meet all other graduation requirements and the Guam Department of Education from instructional hour requirements for school year 2019-2020. GDOE sought guidance on temporarily waiving these requirements while Guam responds to COVID-19. Due to the unprecedented events, Vice Speaker Nelson introduced the measures to allow GDOE flexibility and ensure that eligible 12th grade students are able to graduate and receive the recognition they’ve earned.
“While we wouldn’t waive these requirements under ordinary circumstances, we realize that GDOE needs our support and that our eligible students should have no hindrance to their graduation,” said Nelson, chairperson of the Committee on Education.
“We will continue working with GDOE to ensure that we uphold academic standards for students and see the rest of the school year through to the end. Our hearts go out to the members of the Class of 2020 who are each doing their part during this crisis by staying home and allowing our island to respond. We pray that you will be inspired by the countless heroes of our community responding to this crisis and that you will in turn seek opportunities to serve our island throughout your lives.”
For more information, please contact Tihu Lujan at The Office of Vice Speaker
Telena Cruz Nelson at (671) 989-7696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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