‘Cutting hours by calling in sick usually done by people with no sick leave’

GDOL director David Dell'Isola (PNC photo)

The Guam Department of Labor is warning residents that calling in sick to reduce your hours and qualify for PUA is fraud.

Dave Dell’Isola spoke with Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo about attempts to defraud the pandemic unemployment system.

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“I’ve been told by several businesses that..you know they’ve been quite flexible, working with employees and trying to make sure that they get the most that they can to help them…because a lot of employees are like family to employers. But some employers are saying that, you know, they run a tight ship, and when one or two are calling in every week sick, in order to be below their full-time hours, and they can then apply for PUA, it’s starting to affect their businesses,” Dell’Isola said.

Dell’Isola said that attempts to reduce hours by calling in sick are usually done by people whose employers don’t provide sick leave.

Employees who have sick leave would still receive full pay when calling in sick and so wouldn’t qualify for PUA.

Dell’Isola said that there are other variations of people trying to reduce their own hours to qualify.

But he said that a person’s hours would need to be reduced by their employer as a result of the pandemic.

Simply working less than full-time during the pandemic isn’t enough.

Dell’Isola said that any refusal to work to collect unemployment is fraud.

Anyone caught attempting such fraud will be completely disqualified from the program.

Also, the Guam Department of Labor is working closely with the Guam AG’s Office, the OIG, and the FBI to investigate more serious attempts at fraud.

Dell’Isola said that unemployment benefits will eventually end.

He suggested that rather than trying to take advantage of the program, people should be using this time to prepare for life after the pandemic.

“Don’t be short-sighted. Take the long-term game. Get your training. Get your job now. Because six months is going to go like this and then you’re going to be one of 10,000 people looking for work, and there isn’t going to be any more aid. And so be smart,” Dell’Isola said.