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  • By Pacific island Times News Staff

USDOL approves initial release of $70.5M for CNMI’s unemployment relief assistance

CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres

Saipan-- The U.S. Department of Labor has approved an initial disbursement of $70.5 million for the CNMI's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs, following the Employment and Training Administration's approval of the commonwealth government's implementation plan for both programs.

CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres said the government is "eager to get these benefits out to employees who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The governor also commended CNMI Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente and her team at CNMI DOL "for all their hard work to fulfill the requirements of the program since I executed the CNMI’s agreement with US DOL on March 29, immediately after President Trump signed the CARES Act into law."

“I want to thank Governor Torres and Lt. Governor Palacios for their support and to the US Department of Labor for assisting us as we get this very much needed assistance to employees in the CNMI,” Benavente said. “I also want to recognize our hardworking team at the CNMI Department of Labor for their hard work and dedication. We will be pushing out this program very soon and will be making announcements before we open the application period."


PUA and FPUC are among the components of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

PUA provides benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits.

PUA is also generally not payable to individuals who have the ability to telework with pay or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits. However, individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week and individuals who have been offered the option of teleworking with pay who then work less than the individual worked prior to the pandemic, may still be eligible for PUA.

Individuals who receive at least $1 of PUA benefits for a week, will also receive an additional $600 supplemental payment under the FPUC program.


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