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Labor Makes New Policies Due to COVID-19 Emergency

Commissioner of the Department of Labor Gary Molloy testifying before Senate. (Photo by Alvin Burke)

Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s declaration of a State of Emergency has triggered access to additional resources to combat the outbreak. The V.I. Department of Labor (Labor) is ready to assist employees while using the recommended precautions from the governor, the V.I. Health Department and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Labor is implementing safety precautions to allow it to continue to assist the public while ensuring the safety of its internal staff. It is using the recommended social distancing feet, which was recently changed to 10 feet.

Unemployment Insurance

Any employer that needs to reduce hours give furloughs, layoffs or a possible reduction in hours, Labor is requesting that employers do the following:

  1. Send a letter to the Office of the Commissioner of Labor that includes the names of the affected employees in advance of the reduction of hours to 20 per week, discharge or layoff.
  2. Contact Labor directly at the following numbers:
    • Thomas 776-3700 ext. 2094 or 2013
    • Croix 773-1994 ext. 2152 or 2154
  3. Timely file quarterly reports. The filing of quarterly reports is necessary to assure persons receive the correct unemployment compensation.
  4. Send a notice to the employee with the reason for the separation before reducing in hours, discharge or layoff.

Labor Relations:

Due to the recent developments with COVID19, effective immediately, the Division of Labor Relations, both St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Districts, notifies the community that it will be limiting its in-person interactions with the general public. To continue to serve the community, the Division will be communicating with customers via telephone and email, instead of their coming into the Division. Labor will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. Please make sure to leave your name, phone number, email and reason for contacting the Division.

For information, contact Director Gwen Steele at 773-1994 ext. 2124 or via email at gwen.steele@dol.vi.gov on St. Croix or Rhonda Frazer, labor relations specialist, 776-3700 ext. 2028/ rfrazer@vidol.gov on St. Thomas.

Worker’s Compensation:

The Division of Worker’s Compensation Administration, St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John District, notifies the community that it will be limiting its in-person interactions with the public. The Division will continue to serve its claimants and providers in its full capacity. It is asking the public to utilize the drop box located in the lobby of its main building and to contact the Division via telephone at 713-3413 (STX) or 715-570 (STT) for general inquires. It is also asking that its providers continue to contact it via email and fax at 713-3421 (STX) or 715-5743 (STT). The Division will respond to all inquiries and correspondence within 24 hours.

OSHA:

Due to the recent COVID-19 events, VIDOSH is requiring employees to file a safety and health complaint online at https://www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html

Employees (or representative of) have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint and request an OSHA inspection of the employee’s workplace if the employee believes there is a serious hazard or thinks the employer is not following OSHA standards. The complaint should be filed as soon as possible after noticing the hazard. A signed complaint is more likely to result in an onsite inspection.

How to File a Whistleblower Complaint

An employee has the right to file a whistleblower complaint with OSHA if said employee believes the employer retaliated against the employee for exercising rights as an employee under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by OSHA. In states with OSHA-approved state plans, employees may file complaints with https://www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html

Labor Relations:

Due to the recent developments with COVI19, effective immediately, the Division of Labor Relations, St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Districts, notifies the community it will be limiting its in-person interactions with the public. To continue to serve the city, the Division will be communicating with customers via telephone and email instead of coming into the Division. It will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours. Please make sure to leave name, phone number, email and reason for contacting the Division.

For information, inquiries and concerns, contact Director Gwen Steele at 773-1994 ext. 2124 or via email at gwen.steele@dol.vi.gov. On St. Croix, contact Rhonda Frazer, labor relations specialist, at 776-3700 ext. 2028 or rfrazer@vidol.gov on St. Thomas.

Hearings and Appeals:

As a result of the recent developments with COVI19 [coronavirus], effective immediately, the V.I. Department of Labor’s Hearings and Appeals Unit, St. Croix and St. Thomas-St. John Districts, are notifying the community that it will be holding all hearings telephonically as per the instructions to be provided to all noticed parties. On the date of the hearing, parties must: call in from their residence or office to the number that appears on their mailed/emailed Department of Labor Hearing Notice.

Make sure to leave a name, phone number, email and any questions with the numbers provided. For all information, contact Chief Administrative Law Judge June Austin Director at 773-1994 ext. 2107 or via email at jaustin@dol.vi.gov on St. Croix or Administrative Law Judge James Kitson at 776-3700 ext. 2036 on St. Thomas.

For information on COVID-19, visit the Virgin Islands Department of Health’s website at: www.doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or text COVID19USVI to 88877 or contact the Department of Health at 340-712-6299 on St. Croix or 776-1519 on St. Thomas.

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