Independent contractors, commonly known as freelance or "gig" workers, may qualify for the new round of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program under the Guam Department of Labor's expanded eligibility criteria.
The criteria to be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance has been updated in the hireguam.com PUA system, the department announced Monday.
Gig workers are self-employed, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers and temporary workers. They are outside of the formal workplace setup and most of them work on the own time. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company's clients.
On Feb. 5, the U.S. Department of Labor approved additional eligibility criteria for PUA, one of the most impactful was the inclusion of workers on reduced hours.'
"For self-employed persons, qualification is not based on hours worked. They may qualify for PUA but must show their income has been diminished significantly due to the public health emergency," the labor department said.
As of Sunday, the hireguam.com system modifications were completed and applicants can select the added criteria when filing their claims.
The new options on the system cover workers who were laid off or had their hours reduced, but their employers remain open. Workers who were denied PSA because they refused to work at a worksite that was unsafe due to Covid-19 because the employer failed to meet local safety standards is also a new qualifying criteria.
Another addition applies to certain workers who provide services to educational institutions but are out of work due to schedule volatility.
“The unsafe working conditions really wasn’t an issue here, but it is new guidance. What affected claimants the most was the reduced hours and self-employment," Labor Director David Dell' Isolla said.
“When filing your application, remember that the PUA program defines unemployed as completely laid off, temporarily unemployed or working less than your pre-pandemic hours as a direct result of Covid-19,” Dell’Isola said.
Those working a job full-time are not considered unemployed even if they lost a part-time job because of the pandemic.
"If you worked part-time only prior to the pandemic, and are now back to working those same hours, you are also not considered unemployed," the department said.