The government will issue a one-time loss of income relief to private-sector employees that lost income due to COVID-19-related illness, Minister Ngirai Tmetuchl of HRCT&D announced at this week’s press conference. Only Palauan citizens are eligible.
The one-time financial assistance is available to a Palauan employee in the private sector who is full-time or part-time but was laid-off/sent home by an employer due to temporary closure of business, or placed on leave without pay due to COVID-19 related circumstances.
To obtain the one-time $200 relief assistance, an applicant must fit into one or more of the following categories and submit proper documents. First, if the applicant themselves is/was covid-positive, they must provide a positive test result from MHHS and a quarantine/isolation order or documentation from either Ministry of Health & Human Services or a private clinic. Second, the applicant must provide a positive test result and quarantine/isolation orders from MHHS or a private clinic regarding a family member.
Thirdly, a person who had to care for a child due to school closure, or whose childcare provider was unavailable due to COVID-19, is eligible to apply.
Lastly, for those laid-off or sent home, documentation from an employer stating the business closure or leave without pay as well as copies of two paycheck stubs are required to be submitted.
The news is a welcomed relief for some in the private sector who have limited leave hours, especially local employees who do not have labor contracts and therefore have limited or no leave benefits.
“Thank god, I am at the end of my rope. Our hours were cut and then on top of that, a family member got sick and we all became close contacts and I have no more available leave,” expressed a very grateful private sector employee.
“They should make this available to all workers who get COVID, not just private-sector employees,” expressed a worried government employee. “When police officers get sick and go on sick leave, which eliminates their hazardous pay and night differential, their families suffer too during this crisis.”
Another government employee expressed frustration, “It’s unfair. Why must I use my own earned benefits as a government employee while the private sector gets government relief? These come out of my tax dollars and yet I must apply and use my earned benefits.”
The COVID-19 outbreak in the community in the past month raised the cumulative number of positive cases to 2,115, with 850 recovered.
According to infectious diseases protocol currently in place, persons who tested positive for COVID-19 have to self-quarantine or isolate for 5 days, and if after their Day 5 test they are still positive, they need to remain in quarantine/isolation for another 5 days. This essentially mandates any employee tested positive for COVID-19 to leave work and self-isolate for 5 to 10 days depending on their test results.
The one-time Loss of Income Relief Assistance to the private sector addressed the loss of income as a result of COVID-19 related circumstances.