Back to work Monday for GovGuam workers; double pay issue still unsettled

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

All GovGuam offices and agencies have been ordered to re-open to the public on Monday, June 1, and all GovGuam workers have been ordered to report back to work.

However, questions remain over the issue of double pay for those workers and the compensation paid to GovGuam employees who have remained at home during the 2-month shutdown.

It’s back to work Monday for all 11,000 government of Guam employees, none of whom — Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero acknowledged during her Friday afternoon online news conference — suffered any loss of pay or benefits during the more than two months coronavirus shutdown.

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“Did any GovGuam employee who was not called back to work and has not been on the frontlines who’s been at home for the most part and not working … did any of those GovGuam employees suffer any loss of pay or compensation as a result of this two-month shutdown? No. They did not suffer any loss of pay. But they were told to be ready at two hours’ notice to return to work,” the governor said.

However, the governor noted that those GovGuam employees who have remained at home still provided services.

“Although they’re not physically at the facility that they are normally at while working, they are at home. But for the most part, they are teleworking and also they are helping to support the public service. So everyone was working. There are no GovGuam employees who are getting paid and weren’t working. No, everybody was working … everybody was working for the most part, yes,” the governor said.

Also, effective Monday, differential pay will end for category 3 employees. Those are backroom administrative employees who’ve faced minimal exposure to the public and therefore minimal risk.

However, differential pay will continue to apply for frontline public safety and health care workers and those dealing directly with the public.

Unsettled was the question of double pay. One lawsuit has already been filed over that issue and another is pending. The governor, in her news conference, again reiterated that GovGuam cannot afford double pay.

“I can not afford double pay. If I am mandated to pay for the double pay that means I will have to look into furloughing people. We’re still in discussion with the U.S. Treasury in terms of whether the CARES Act will be allowed to be used for double pay. As far as it being allowed for double pay, there are some guidelines right now that says you can not use it for workforce bonuses, and you can only use it for hazardous pay. So we need to clarify the definition of hazardous pay. Is that hazardous pay or is that bonus pay?” the governor said.

Also, as expected, the governor formally extended the current public health emergency for another 30 days until June 30 so that she can continue to implement social distancing restrictions and other measures in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19.