Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Connelley backs prorated labor fee

Connelley backs prorated labor fee

Tuesday, 02 February 2010 00:15
by Jennifer Naylor Gesick | Variety News Staff

LABOR director Maria Connelley said yesterday she fully supports Sen. Rory Respicio’s bill proposing to prorate the H2 worker fees based on the length of validity of their working visa.

“When I came on board about five and a half years ago we were prorating it and then about two years ago something came up and we got an opinion from the attorney general saying that we shouldn’t be prorating it,” said Connelley.

“The Guam Contractors Association and a lot of employers we are working with have been asking for the same thing, so that is certainly under consideration,” she added.

Connelley believes the prorating of the fees will address the employers’ concerns.

The current fee charged by the Guam Department of Labor is $1,091 per year regardless of the worker’s length of stay with the company.

The fee was amended in December with the passage of Public Law 30-64, which raises the alien registration fee by $91. The additional fee goes to the Department of Public Health and Social Services for recruitment of additional health sanitation specialists who will be tasked to inspect workers housing quarters for health and safety standards.

The $1,000 base fee goes to the Department of Labor’s manpower Development Fund.

Respicio said he will ensure that his bill does not trump the existing law.

Bill 313 maintains the yearly fee of $1,091 but prorates the fee to $84 per month if a worker is here for less than a year or a little over a year.

“I can understand if you’re an employer and you have to bring in so many H2 workers. I can relate to them. Paying $1,000 is quite an increase from the $200 in the past,” Connelley said.

The prorated fee would be tied to the workers visa "so it won't be complicated or cumbersome to implement,” Respicio said in an earlier interview. "I am doing this because it is only fair."

The senator noted that during the construction of a project, different phases require different types of workers. “You wouldn't hire a mason to be there the entire time," Respicio said.

The number of workers expected to come to Guam for projects related to the military buildup varies from 17,000 to 25,000.

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