Am. Samoa HR Director Warns Against Unauthorized Hires

admin's picture

Sonny Thompson says three departments under scrutiny

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 20, 2013) – Human Resources Director Sonny Thompson has issued a stern warning to Directors and Agency Heads who have "unauthorized" hires without the approval by the American Samoa government’s (ASG) HR Department.

Thompson said during the cabinet meeting, there is only one hiring agency in the ASG and that’s DHR. "If you have volunteers that have not been approved to work for the government, send them home," he told directors.

Some have been working for more than a year and the government must pay them for the work they have done, Thompson noted, adding he sent a letter last week to all departments on this issue.

"This is the final warning — if you have people working who are not yet authorized by DHR, send them home and bring over documentation to prove that they were working, because we have got to pay them," he said. "If not, we will repeat the same mistake as the previous administration on overtime — which cost the government $918,000."

The DHR director pointed out, "It's not only illegal to employ people without proper authority, it’s illegal for you to move your people without concurrence with HR. While it continues to fall on deaf ears, this must be addressed."

Each Director has to resolve their issues and "if you want to move an employee come talk to HR and we will help accomplish your mission," he said.

Thompson also said the US Department of Labor (USDOL) will have an office here beginning in January and "they’ll be here for three years, to ensure we are in compliance with labor laws."

Thompson said there are three departments that currently have people — either volunteers or non-volunteers — who are on board without proper employment authorization from HR.

According to his letter that was sent out last week, the HR Director said this unauthorized hiring was an issue, which came before the High Court, where an HR official was subpoenaed to answer to the court on unauthorized hires.

Samoa News understands in this matter the Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua was called before Chief Justice Michael Kruse, and Acting HR Director Eseneiaso Nafanua Liu was also at the hearing.

Thompson’s letter to the Directors and Agency Heads quoted pertinent areas of the American Samoa Code Annotated, such as ASCA 7.0206(e) —"In no instance will a government official allow an employee to enter on duty unless he has been assured by the Director of Manpower Resources or a designated member of his staff that the appointment action has been approved."

He also noted ASAC 4.0301 (6) — "The official effective date for all recruitment and placement actions, as well as other personnel actions, shall be established by the Office of Manpower Resources except in the case of resignation, the date of which is established by the employee who is resigning. Effective dates are not made on a retroactive basis.

"The effective date for within-grade step increments is described under 4.0409. Effective dates for appointments can only be established after the prerequisite medical, police, and immigration clearances have been obtained by the department."

The HR director also pointed out ASAC 4.0302 — "The director (HR Director) has primary responsibility for establishing and administering procedures for filling vacancies in compliance with appropriate federal and ASG rules. However, all employees and supervisors share responsibility for the successful operation of the system."

He stated, "Allowing people to work or volunteer as government employees without Human Resources department’s proper authorization not only undermines the governor’s direction in his cost containment measures and verbal instruction… but is a violation of our local statues and policies is considered an egregious violation of the Federal fair Labor Standard Act."

The letter also appeals to the directors to refrain from continuing to violate HR laws and regulations. "We are bound by the same regulatory restrictions — and recurrences of these violations can only deteriorate our efforts as government to provide fair and equal employment opportunity for all people."

Samoa News will report on Thompson’s presentation before the cabinet on the longstanding issue of overtime in a later edition.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment