Home care and hospice nurses, security guards, restaurant employees, sales associates, and private sector EMTs are just a few of the front-liners that may not receive double pay, not because their risk of exposure is less but because they are not GovGuam employees.
Home care and hospice nurse Isabelle Flores says: “I can’t speak for GovGuam employees because I am in the private sector, but we’re not getting double pay at HSP. I am just grateful to be employed and still receiving a paycheck.”
Congressman Michael San Nicolas, in a brief statement to PNC, says that the CARES Act allows for compensation even to non-government employees. However, he did not elaborate on the details of the aid.
PNC asked Speaker Tina Muna Barnes specifically what mechanisms are in place to provide fair compensation to essential private-sector employees just like for GovGuam essential employees? The Speaker has forwarded PNC’s questions to the US Treasury and White House for guidance. But in the meantime, Speaker Barnes says being a private sector employee does not disqualify them from being a part of the COVID Heroes Act, the bill she introduced two weeks ago.
The Speaker shares that private-sector employers can’t be forced to pay their essential employees compensation for their pandemic service.
She did say that her office has been looking at what opportunities are available with regard to double pay for the private sector to include grant opportunities.
But the Speaker qualified that while she will push for fair compensation for private sector front liners, caution should be exercised in these financially unstable times.
“I am not sure if the private sector is even financially capable of paying double pay for their employees. Many of them are hanging on because of the PPE programs or the economic impact disaster loans,” the Speaker said.
As part of the conversation on fair compensation for private-sector essential frontline workers, the Speaker’s office will be reaching out to all unions and stakeholders on island to gain gather a better understanding of industry needs during the pandemic.