COVID-19 Resources for Montana Employers

FAQ for Employers

COVID-19 Specific

We are committed to keeping employers and employees informed about the latest developments regarding COVID-19. We are updating documents regularly to reflect the questions we are receiving. This information is intended as general information only and does not carry the force of legal opinion.

You will receive a Claim Filing and Potential Charge Notice for each employee who has filed a claim for UI benefits that will identify the percentage of benefits your account may be charged if benefits are paid. This form is not used to determine a claimant’s eligibility for UI benefits. It is used only to establish whether your account is chargeable for UI benefits paid to that claimant.
Last updated 05/13/20

No. Montana reimbursable employers, under Temporary Emergency UI Rule II (8) (filed March 17, 2020), are relieved of charges for benefits paid to claimants laid off due to COVID-19. Claims paid under the emergency rules currently in effect are not specifically chargeable to the employer.
Last updated 05/13/20

Laid off employees may be considered job attached if they have a definite return to work date. Advise all affected employees to select the job attached option when filing or reactivating their UI claim.
Last updated 05/13/20

The Montana Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration are the best resources for small businesses. Business owners can also consult with their banker, accountant, and attorney to facilitate this process.

Information regarding relief options for business affected by COVID-19 can be found at:

Small businesses are not exempted from the totality of the FFCRA. There is exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees that applies in certain situations. If an employee’s leave is to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable, a business with fewer than 50 employees may determine that employee is not eligible for FFCRA leave if the leave would adversely impact the employer’s business operations. For example, if the loss of an employee’s specialized skills, knowledge, or responsibilities will jeopardize the business or if there are insufficient employees to allow the business to operate at a minimal capacity. The employer may determine they are exempt from FFCRA for that purpose.

Currently, there is no formal method for seeking an exemption. Keep records as to which employees are affected, their job duties and the impact an employee’s absence would have on the business. Gather any other supporting documentation or information you relied upon for your staffing decisions.

Be advised things may change as more federal guidance becomes available. For the latest information:

Last updated 05/13/20

Self-employed individuals or contract employees may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits under the CARES Act. The PUA program expands unemployment benefits to those not covered under regular unemployment. This includes people otherwise able and available to work but who, due to COVID-19 related reasons set forth in the CARES Act, are currently unable or unavailable to work. You will need to create an account to file your claim at https://montanaworks.gov/. Please refer to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance FAQ’s for further information.
Last updated 05/13/20

Generally, no. Individuals receiving UI benefits, even those whose claims are COVID-19 related, must return to work when able to do so. The employer should document the work offered, including any changes regarding wages or hours of work, the date the offer was made, and the reason given for the refusal.

However, an employee may be able to show good cause for not returning to work, if the business is not complying with the Phase 1 Directive on Reopening as outlined in the Governor’s Directive of April 22 and any local public health orders. Further, if an employer is unable to make reasonable accommodations for an employee who is a vulnerable individual pursuant to the Directive on Reopening, the employee may be eligible for continuing benefits under regular UI, PEUC or the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

The Directive describes “Vulnerable Individuals” as people over 65 years of age, people with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma, and people whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer or other conditions requiring such therapy.

Local public health officials have the authority to ensure the health and safety of the public. Employees can contact their local public health officials if they have questions, or if they believe their employer is violating social distancing directives. OSHA may also be able to provide guidance to workers. For more information, go to https://www.osha.gov.

Phase 1 Reopening Employer Guidelines
Employers should:

  • Develop and implement appropriate policies, in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations and guidance, and informed by industry best practices, regarding:
  • Social distancing and protective equipment.
  • Temperature checks and/or symptom screening.
  • Testing, isolating, and contact tracing, in collaboration with public health authorities.
  • Sanitation.
  • Use and disinfection of common and high-traffic areas.
  • Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms. Do not allow people with symptoms of COVID-19 to work.
  • Collaborate with public health officials when implementing policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following an employee’s COVID-19 positive test result.

Last updated 05/13/20

If you are a SIDES E-Response employer, the quickest way to inform the department of the refusal is by amending your SIDES separation response.

For SIDES E-Response participants, to amend your response:

  • Log into uieservices.mt.gov
  • Navigate to the SIDES Request tab
  • Select View/Amend to launch the SIDES E-Response portal
  • On the UI SIDES E-Response Switchboard, select Separation Information
  • For the claimant you wish to amend, select Create Amendment

On the Amended Response page please provide as much detail as possible regarding the employee’s refusal of work, including: the claimant’s name, the date(s) they refused work, what type of work was offered, how was the work offered and by whom, and what was the reason given for not accepting the work.

If you are not a SIDES E-Response participating employer or you cannot amend your SIDES separation response, you can submit details of the employee’s refusal by a secure web message via uieservices.mt.gov or by email to uieservices@mt.gov . Include a much detail as possible about the claimant’s refusal and include the Claimant ID of the refusing employee, as well as the employer’s name and contact person. Do not include personal information such as the employee’s social security number.

If you have questions about the notification of refusal process, contact our eServices Customer Support at (406) 444-3834, select option 2.
Last updated 05/13/20

Per the Governor’s Directive from April 22nd, businesses reopening in Phase One should apply the following guidelines, any other applicable guidelines from the Directive, and any local public health orders:

  • Health assessments must be conducted for all employees at the beginning of each shift.
  • In establishments where customers wait in a line, non-household customers should remain physically distanced.
  • Waiting areas where adequate physical distancing cannot be maintained must be closed.
  • Customers should be encouraged to call for a reservation or an appointment, or establishments should use an online wait listing application.
  • Physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained between non-congregate customers, this may require:
    • A reduction in capacity;
    • A reduction of seating in service and waiting areas;
    • Management of waiting areas and waiting lines; or
    • Systems that reduce the amount of contact time between customers and staff.

More information regarding Reopening Guidelines can be found here.
Last updated 05/13/20

No. Paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is in addition to your employee’s other leave entitlements. You may not require your employee to use provided or accrued paid vacation, personal, medical, or sick leave before the FFCRA paid sick leave. You also may not require your employee to use such existing leave concurrently with the paid sick leave. But if you and your employee agree, your employee may use preexisting leave entitlements to supplement the amount he or she receives from paid sick leave, up to the employee’s normal earnings. Note, however, that you are not entitled to a tax credit for any paid sick leave that is not required to be paid or exceeds the limits set forth. You are free to amend your own policies to the extent consistent with applicable law.

FFCRA allows for two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave (at full rate of pay) to employees who are out of work because they are quarantined or who have fallen ill to COVID-19. FFCRA also provides two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 of the employee’s rate of pay to employees who are unable to work because they are caring for someone quarantined or they are providing childcare.

For a complete list of eligibility requirements view:

Last updated 05/13/20

All charges related to a separation from an employer that are due to COVID-19 will be relieved to that employer’s account. Charges will not be relieved if the separation occurred during the claimant’s base period and that employer was not the claimant’s last employer. Charges unrelated to COVID-19 will be determined using non-emergency laws and rules.
Last updated 05/27/20

Probably not. The regular summer break closure of primary and secondary schools is not a closure due to the COVD-19 pandemic, and therefore unemployment insurance benefits related to an inability to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not generally be available during the school’s summer break.

However, under the CARES Act, if that employee’s regular summer child care is unavailable because of closure or capacity limits in child care facilities (whether school summer day programs or private care providers) imposed due to the COVID-19, then special pandemic unemployment assistance (“PUA”) benefits may be available. The employee must be able to demonstrate that the unavailability of child care for the employee’s child is due to the pandemic.
Last updated 06/11/20

General Unemployment Questions

Unemployment benefits provide temporary financial assistance to those who meet the eligibility requirements set by law. The CARES Act expands unemployment benefits to those not covered under regular unemployment. This includes people otherwise able and available to work but who, due to COVID-19 related reasons set forth in the CARES Act, are currently unable or unavailable to work. More information on eligibility requirements can be found at COVID-19 Emergency Resources for Employers and Workers.

If an employee is working less than their customary hours, they may be eligible to receive partial benefits regardless if they are a salaried employee or an hourly employee.
Last updated 05/13/20

This is claim specific. If there are any issues or areas that need to be investigated, it will take longer to process. Please have your employee contact our phone center or review any outstanding issues online at MontanaWorks.gov.
Last updated 05/13/20

The duration of a claim depends on a claimant’s wages during their base period. Steps to determine eligibility, amount and length of benefits can be on page 8 of the Claimant Handbook.
Last updated 05/13/20

If you have not already, sign-up for SIDES right away. Signing up for SIDES will allow us to communicate electronically with you regarding claims filed by your employees, provided you sign-up before they file. The quicker we can gather the information required the better. Review our SIDES Information Sheet to learn more. Sign up for SIDES here or call (406) 444-3834 (select option 2) for help.
Last updated 05/13/20

Fax a list to: (406) 444-2699 ATTN: Claims Processing. When these lists are received, they are put in our system.
Last updated 05/13/20

Any payments made to a former (or current) employee while they are receiving or applying for benefits will be deducted from their weekly benefit amount. Employer payments may result in the employee’s ineligibility for benefits for that week. Claimants must report all payments received when filing their weekly payment request, including paid time off, vacation and other supplemental payments.
Last updated 05/13/20

No. An employer cannot directly or indirectly prevent an employee from filing a claim for unemployment benefits.
Last updated 05/13/20

Generally, no. Pay out of accrued leave is not required when the layoff is temporary, and both the employer and the employee intend for the employee to return to work. An employee should take reasonable measures to maintain contact with the employer. If the separation between the employer and employee becomes permanent at any time during the temporary layoff, then the accrued leave must be paid to the employee pursuant to 39-3-205, MCA. If the employer initiates the permanent separation, the employer must pay out the leave and the employee is still eligible for unemployment insurance. If the employee initiates the permanent separation, the employer must pay out the leave and the employee is no longer eligible for unemployment insurance.
posted 04/13/20

Employees are required to report all wages and hours worked when filing their weekly payment request. Employees who later receive wages for weeks in which they have already received UI benefits, need to report those wages when they are received. Employees can call the Claims Processing Center at (406) 444-2545 Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. Employees can also fax their wage information to (406) 444-2699 or email it to UIClaims@mt.gov. They need to include their name, individual Claimant ID, telephone number and note what benefit weeks for which they received wages.
Last updated 05/26/20

If an employee is working less than their customary hours, they may be eligible to receive partial benefits regardless if they are a salaried employee or an hourly employee.School workers, including administrators, teachers, classroom aides, janitors, and school bus drivers, are generally not eligible for UI benefits based on school wages if the worker has reasonable assurance they will be returning to the same or similar job for the next school year. If the school district decides that certain workers will not be returning, it must notify the affected staff as soon as possible. Please fax a list of the affected workers and the reason why each worker will not be returning to DLI at 406-444-2699, ATTN: Claims Processing. Do not send the workers’ SSN’s or other confidential information.
Last updated 06/01/20

Immediately notify the employee of your suspicions. The employee should then be directed to report the suspected fraud by calling DLI’s Fraud Hotline at (406) 444-0072 or 1-888-556-4677 (toll-free). The employee can also fax information to DLI at (406) 444-6651 or email it to DLIUIDCI@mt.gov. The employee should include their name, email address, phone number, and a brief description of the issue on the submitted documentation. A customer service representative will follow up with the employee if further information is needed.
Last updated 06/11/20

Report UI fraud at DLI’s Report Fraud page by clicking on Report Claimant Fraud or Report Employer Fraud and provide the requested information. You can also report UI fraud by calling (406) 444-0072 or 1-888-556-4677.

You may also fax your information to (406) 444-6651 or email it to DLIUIDCI@mt.gov. Include the contact information of the claimant and/or employer suspected of UI fraud if you know it and provide as much information as you can about the suspected UI fraud. Remember, you can remain anonymous. If you wish to be contacted by DLI, please include your name, telephone number, and email address.

DLI takes UI fraud very seriously. All reports of suspected fraud are thoroughly reviewed and investigated. Those found to have committed UI fraud are subject to penalties, including criminal prosecution.

For more information on UI fraud, please visit DLI’s Report Fraud page.
Last updated 06/11/20


Notice to Employers: You must distribute this important information regarding unemployment Compensation to your employees upon release of employment.


Recorded Employer Q&A:

This recorded Zoom meeting includes answers to Montana employer questions related to COVID-19, the CARES Act, Unemployment Insurance, and Wage & Hour law. This recording will continue to be updated as new information sessions occur. All recorded information discussed during this meeting is also available on the above resource links and FAQ documents, which contain the most up-to-date information available.


Scenarios and Benefits Guide

This side-by-side table is a tool for workers and employers to compare various eligibility scenarios including employer-sponsored sick leave, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation coverage. 

DLI COVID-19 Scenarios and Benefits Flyer


Workers’ Compensation Information

Under certain circumstances, claims involving COVID-19 may be allowed under Workers' Compensation. Please click here for more information.


U.S. Department of Labor Information

The U.S. Department of Labor also has extensive resources to help workers and employers prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 virus. Their guidance is at: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus.

The U.S. Department of Labor has provided guidance to state workforce agencies regarding unemployment compensation flexibilities related to COVID-19. The Program Letter advising states can be found here.


Unemployment Insurance Fraud

DLI takes UI fraud very seriously and is committed to protecting the integrity of the UI program. All reports of suspected fraud are thoroughly reviewed and investigated. Those found to have committed UI fraud are subject to penalties, including criminal prosecution.

Report Employer Fraud

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