Return to Work Information

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) is supporting Montanans returning to work, job-seekers, and those looking for career training opportunities as Montana moves into a gradual and phased reopening, announced by Governor Steve Bullock.

On Wednesday, April 22, Governor Bullock released a Directive and accompanying appendix with guidelines for certain industries. The plan to reopen was based on the latest scientific evidence and data and was crafted in consultation with public health experts, health care providers, business leaders, and emergency management professionals.

Guidelines for all Phases

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.
  • Collaborate with public health on testing, isolating, and contact tracing.
  • 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 heath when implementing policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following an employee COVID+ test.
Last updated 04/28/2020

ALL VULNERABLE INDIVIDUALS should continue to follow the stay home guidance. Members of households with vulnerable residents should be aware that by returning to work or other environments where distancing is not practical, they could carry the virus back home. Precautions should be taken to isolate from vulnerable residents.

  • Vulnerable Individuals: people over 65 years of age and/or those with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.
  • All individuals (non-household), WHEN IN PUBLIC (e.g., parks, outdoor recreation areas, shopping areas), should maximize physical distance from others.
  • Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • MINIMIZE NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL and adhere to Montana guidelines regarding quarantine.
  • Continue to ENCOURAGE TELEWORK whenever possible and feasible with business operations.
  • When telework is not feasible it is encouraged to ACCOMMODATE ALTERNATE WORK SCHEDULES such as shift work and staggered scheduling in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Close COMMON AREAS where personnel are likely to congregate and interact; or enforce strict social distancing protocols.
  • SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS should be made for members of a VULNERABLE POPULATION or those with vulnerable household members.

Last updated 04/28/2020

  • SENIOR LIVING OR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES must continue to prohibit visitors. Those who do interact with residents and patients must ensure strict protocols regarding hygiene and protection are followed.
  • This includes daily screening of staff for symptoms and preventing ill workers from working.
  • CHILD CARE FACILITIES can remain operational but should follow State and local guidelines regarding operational levels and occupancy.
  • ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITES can consider becoming operational if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented. Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • RESTAURANTS / BARS / BREWERIES / DISTILLERIES / CASINOS can become operational on or after May 4, 2020 under strict physical distancing and reduced capacity protocols in accordance with State guidelines.
  • All patrons must be out of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11:30. MAIN STREET AND RETAIL BUSINESSES can become operational on or after April 27, 2020 with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained.
  • GYMS / POOLS / HOT TUBS remain closed.
  • OUTDOOR RECREATION can become operational if sites adhere to strict physical distancing between groups and exercise frequent sanitation protocols if public facilities are open.
  • PLACES OF WORSHIP can become operational on or after April 26, 2020 with reduced capacity and where strict physical distancing protocols can be maintained between non-household members. Avoid GATHERING in groups of more than 10 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing.
  • Other PLACE OF ASSEMBLY shall remain closed (e.g., movie and performance theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls).

Last updated 04/28/2020

  • Effective June 1, avoid gathering in groups of more than 50 people in circumstances that do not readily allow for appropriate physical distancing. It is recommended to continue to social distance in gatherings of any size.
  • Groups larger than 50 people should be cancelled unless physical distancing can be maintained.
  • If you are planning an event with more than 50 people you should consult with your local public health office on a plan to implement adequate social distancing.
  • Consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines, event cutoff threshold is at the discretion of community leadership based on current circumstances in your community.
  • Physical distancing guidelines for groups and gatherings do not apply to household members.
  • Effective June 1, the below guidelines apply to both individuals and businesses in Phase Two. Individuals and businesses should also follow the Phase Two guidelines provided in the attached Appendix A, also in effect June 1.
  • Vulnerable individuals should continue to adhere to the stay-at-home guidance.
  • All businesses may operate, provided they adhere to physical distancing and the conditions in this Directive, the Phase Two Guidelines, and all other Directives and guidance remaining in effect. Businesses should follow CDC sanitation protocols.
  • Restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries and casinos remain in the same operational status as Phase One, but with an increase to 75 percent capacity.
  • Gyms, indoor group fitness classes, pools, and hot tubs can operate at 75 percent capacity and only if they can adhere to strict physical distancing and they exercise frequent sanitation protocols.
  • Concert halls, bowling alleys, and other places of assembly may operate with reduced capacity and must adhere to strict physical distancing guidelines set forth for group gatherings and follow CDC sanitation protocols.
  • Child-care facilities can increase capacity consistent with the guidelines and FAQ contained in the April 1 Directive on childcare and if physical distancing guidelines can be implemented, however the 24-person cap per facility no longer applies effective June 1.
  • Employers should continue to permit telework as much as possible and where feasible, but refer to guidelines for Phase One where telework is not possible.
  • Senior living or assisted living facilities must continue to follow the guidelines of Phase One. • Outdoor recreation remains in the same operational status as Phase One.
  • Effective June 1, the provisions of the March 30 Directive requiring quarantine for nonwork-related arrivals in Montana will no longer be in effect.
  • The Montana National Guard remains authorized to conduct temperature checks, assess individuals for COVID-19 symptoms, and to inquire about exposure history of any traveler arriving in Montana from another state or country through air or rail travel, consistent with the terms and restrictions provided in the March 30 Directive.
  • The State will execute a robust public health plan in communities most impacted by tourism, including: o Surveillance testing of employees. o Enhanced contact tracing resources deployed to these areas as requested by local authorities. o Ability to surge personal protective equipment to impacted health care systems. o Guidelines for operation for businesses that see high-tourist activity.

For Businesses

Businesses that are reopening and calling back workers may have various questions about ensuring the health and safety of their employees, recruiting new employees if your staff is no longer available, or what to do if an offer to return to work is refused. Please see our FAQs and our reopening resources to find guidance on those and other scenarios.

For Workers

Job Service Montana offices across the state can assist job seekers as they begin the transition back to work, within their local communities. Job Service centers collaborate with community partners to provide connections to customer-focused employment and training. They also assist job seekers with job search skills and connections to businesses that are looking to hire and/or that provide work based learning opportunities.

Job Service resources for businesses and job-seekers are available by phone, email, or online at For a list of all Job Service offices across the state and their contact information, visit

Montanans looking for work can find businesses that are hiring by using the job search portal on

Return to Work FAQ

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 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.
Last updated 05/04/20

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
  • 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 or by email to 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 05/04/20

It depends. If your employee is working 40 hours per week at a reduced wage, they are not considered unemployed. If they are working less than 40 hours and their weekly earnings are less than twice their weekly benefit amount, they may be eligible for partial UI benefits if they do return to work. Check the Partial Benefit Calculator to estimate the partial weekly benefit amount. Claimants who are eligible to receive at least $1 in partial UI benefits may continue to receive the additional $600 per week.
Last updated 05/05/20

No. Individuals who quit without good cause are not generally eligible for UI benefits. However, there are multiple qualifying circumstances related to COVID-19 that can make an individual eligible for PUA, including if the individual quits his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19. An individual who has been advised by their health care provider to self-quarantine due to a compromised immune system by virtue of a serious health condition may be eligible for PUA. Absent as advisement to self-quarantine from a health care provider, an individual who refuses work due to general concerns about exposure to COVID-19, and who does not meet any other COVID-Related criteria for PUA, is not eligible for PUA.
Last updated 05/04/20

No. Individuals receiving UI benefits must return to work when asked to do so by the employer, as required by New Rule II(5)(b). However, the employer must comply with the Phase 1 Directive on reopening and any applicable local public health orders. For more information, review Montana’s Reopening Guidelines Reopening Guidelines.
Last updated 05/05/20

No. Quitting to access unemployment benefits is not good cause for leaving work. Individuals who quit to access UI benefits and are untruthful in their UI application about their reason for quitting, will be considered to have committed fraud.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry takes fraud very seriously; all reports of potential, alleged, or suspected fraud are thoroughly reviewed and investigated. Those found to have committed UI fraud are subject to penalties and/or criminal prosecution. Please refer to page 16 of the Claimant Handbook for more information.
Last updated 05/05/20

It depends. If you are working 40 hours per week at a reduced wage, you are not considered unemployed. If you are working less than 40 hours and you earn less than twice your Weekly Benefit Amount, you may be eligible for partial UI benefits if you do return to work. Check the Partial Benefit Calculator to estimate the partial weekly benefit amount.
Last updated 05/04/20

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