Three new bills seek double pay, extra leave credits for certain GovGuam employees

 

Three  new bills have been introduced in the Guam Legislature proposing hazardous pay, double compensation  and extra leave credits for government employees, who work during the Covidpademic period.

 

 

“For months, our humble healthcare workers have risen daily to meet the daunting challenges awaiting them at work, challenges that would cripple the morale of any hard working employee,":

 

.”It is true that no amount of pay could equal the service, sacrifice and hard work of our front line responders, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to compensate our island’s heroes at all,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson, author of of twin legislation, Bills 357-35 and 358-35.

 

Bill 357-35 and 358-35, propose granting front line and essential employees hazardous differential pay and double pay retroactive to the governor’s declaration of the public health emergency until the declaration of Pandemic Condition of Readiness 2, or March 14 to May 8.

 

“With these measures, we say to our front line responders and those who have continued to work under the most extraordinary circumstances that they are not only appreciated, but that they are also of extraordinary value and worth every second they’ve selflessly dedicated to saving the lives of our people during a very difficult time,” Nelson said.

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Bill  358-35 would codify the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-08, instituting three categories of COVID-19 differential pay as follows:·

 

Category 1: 25 percent 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, health care providers, and other positions performing essential critical mission duties;·

 

Category 2: 15 percent 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 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-19 pandemic

 

Bill 357-35 would establish double pay provisions for government of Guam employees who were required to remain on duty to provide essential services during Pandemic Condition of Readiness 1, or between March 14 and May 8.

 

The bill also authorizes the governor to use funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

 

Under the measure, government employees would be paid at double the regular rate if, 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 as sworn public safety or law enforcement officers, health care providers, and other positions performing essential critical mission 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, including those employees who are providing humanitarian services or direct assistance to the general public; or

 

· 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-19 pandemic.

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Under the Department of Administration’s Personnel Rules and Regulations, “those employees, required to remain on duty to provide essential services, shall be paid at double the regular rate, or granted compensatory leave credits for the hours worked during the period the facility is closed and the other employees are on excused leave.”

 

While the Attorney General recently opined that the criteria of the rule could lead to unintended inequities, the Organic Act expressly authorizes the legislature to set the compensation of all government of Guam employees.

 

Nelson wrote the Committee on Rules and Office of Finance and Budget requesting that the required fiscal notes and committee referrals be expedited in light of the pressing demands for double pay.

 

The third measure, Bill 359-35, seeks to compensate classified workers called to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Bill 359-35 was a joint effort in collaboration with the Guam Federation of Teachers, Speaker Tina Muna-Barnes, Sen. Pedo Terlaje, Sen. Clynt Ridgell, Sen. Wil Castro and Sen. Mary Torres. 

 

Gov. Lou eon Guerrero expressed support for this bill.

 

Under  Bill 359-35, any classified employee that worked during the emergency period of March 20  to May 10,  will be entitled to one hour of additional annual leave—for every hour worked—not to exceed 240 hours of annual leave, provided that the classified employee: was required to physically report to work during the emergency period; and did not receive any additional compensation, administrative leave, or compensatory time off aside from what was provided in Executive Order 2020-08 or any applicable hazardous, night, or overtime differential pay. 

 

In addition, up to 120 hours of the COVID-19 Heroes Annual Leave may be paid in lump sum compensation at the request of the employee before Oct.1, 2020. 

 

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