Labor & Employment
We receive many questions regarding labor laws, as well as employment and unemployment. As these laws and regulations change over time, and may depend on your business’s specific situation, we recommend going straight to the source.
If you have questions about how these laws and regulations apply specifically to your business, we recommend contacting our SBDC Business Advisor/COVID Specialist Nathan Reiff.
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Montana Department of Labor & Industry
The COVID-19 emergency is now impacting the work and personal lives of Montanans throughout our state. The Montana Department of Labor & Industry is closely following the changing dynamics and policies at the state and federal level. This page will be regularly updated to share updated information. Please bookmark this page and check back often.
To apply for unemployment*, please visit Montana Works
*As of April 8, the Montana Department of Labor is now accepting unemployment applications for self-employed, independent contractors, and other individuals.
U.S. Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor has resources to help workers and employers prepare for the COVID-19 virus (also known as novel coronavirus).
Links and other resources
U.S. Department Of Labor Announces Additional Guidance Explaining Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Read the guidance here.
Employee Paid Leave Options
Employee Paid Leave Options
We are answering these questions based on guidance from the IRS Paid Leave FAQs, FFCRA FAQs, and our patners. ALL information is subject to change or be updated, and should not be viewed as legal advice. Please consult your attorney, advisor, or lender as you navigate your options.
Who is eligible?
This act applies to public and private employers with fewer than 500 employees, with a certain exception – small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for exemption, but the standard for granting exception is very high.
What are qualifying reasons I would need to pay leave?
An employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work or unable to telework due to a need for leave because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
- is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.
What documentation do I need to receive FFCRA tax credit?
- Name and relation of individual for whom the employee is caring.
- Name of school, place of care, or care provider that is unavailable due to COVID-19.
- Employee’s representation that no other person will provide care for the child.
- Employee must also provide a statement documentation of “special circumstances” requiring the employee to provide care for a child older than age 14 (or those older than 18).
Can I require my employees utilize their own PTO or sick leave before using Emergency Family and Medical Leave?
For information on accessing the tax credits after offering required paid leave, please consult this IRS guide.
Under recent acts, there is expanded help for unemployment insurance. The federal government is allowing new options for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits related to COVID-19. Currently in Montana, if you are told to leave work due to sickness, or are not employed in an essential industry and are told not to report, you qualify for state Unemployment Insurance.
If I lay off my employees due to COVID-19, will they be considered job attached?
- Your employees may be considered job attached. Advise them to select the Job Attached option when filing or reactivating their UI claim.
Are employees eligible for benefits if their hours are reduced?
- If an employee is working less than their customary hours, they may be eligible to receive partial benefits.
How do my employees file for benefits and how much do they get?
- Employees may file for UI benefits online at MontanaWorks.gov. Use the benefits estimator to calculate a possible weekly benefit amount. Please do not call the state COVID-19 hotline for UI questions.
How will this affect my UI Tax rate? Will the benefit charges be relieved?
- Under the emergency rules that went into effect March 17, 2020, employers will not be charged on a COVID-19 claim.
Additional programs are available or may be available for those seeking unemployment. We will update FAQs as more information becomes available.