Montana Hours Worked
Montana requires employers to pay employees for all hours worked. It defines hours worked as all the time an employer requires employees to be on duty or at the employer premises or other designated work location. It includes all time the employees are suffered or permitted to work, which includes all time the employer knows or has reason to believe employees are working and any work performed at the employer’s premises or away from it. It is the duty of the employer to stop employees from working when the employer does not want them to work. Moreover, merely implementing a policy against working unauthorized time is not enough; employers must take affirmative action to enforce the policy.MT Admin. Rules 24.16.1002, 1005
Montana law defines a workweek as a fixed, regularly recurring period of 168 hours, which constitutes seven consecutive 24-hour periods. A workweek does not need to coincide with the standard calendar week and may begin on any given day and hour of the day. An employer may also establish different workweeks for different groups of employees. Once a workweek has been established, it must generally remain fixed. However, an employer may change the start day of a workweek if the change is intended to be permanent and not meant to evade overtime requirements.
Montana law requires employers to count time employees are waiting as hours worked if the employees are engaged to wait for work, also referred to as being on duty. Employers are not required to pay employees for time they are waiting to be engaged to work, referred to as being off duty. To determine whether an employee is engaged to wait or waiting to be engaged, Montana considers the following factors:
- construction of any agreements between the employer and employee;
- how any agreement between the parties has been applied previously;
- the nature of the worked performed by the employee and its relation to the waiting time;
- the predictability of the waiting periods;
- the duration of the waiting periods;
- whether the employee is able to effectively use the waiting time for his or her own purposes;
- whether the employee was informed in advance that he or she may leave the employers premises and does not need to return until a specific time; and
- any other relevant facts.
Montana law requires employers to count time employees are on-call as hours worked if the employees are required to remain on the employer”™s premises or in such close proximity they cannot use the time effectively for their own purposes. Employer do not need to count time employees are on-call as hours worked if the employees are able to leave the employer”™s premises and are simply required to leave word where they can be reached. The employees can effectively use the time for their own purposes. MT Admin. Rule 24.16.1005(7)
Montana law requires employers to count employee sleep time as hours worked for purposes of minimum wage and overtime requirements if the employee is scheduled to work less than 24 hours and remains on duty and must work when required.
When an employee is required to be on duty for 24 or more hours at a time, the employer does not need to count up to 8 hours of that time as hour worked if:
- the employee has expressly agreed that the time will be excluded;
- the employer provides adequate sleeping facilities for uninterrupted sleep;
- the employee is able to sleep for at least 5 continuous hours during the sleeping period; and
- any interruptions during the sleep period are counted as hours worked.
If the employee is not able to sleep for 5 continuous hours during the sleep period, all time during the period must be counted as hours worked. An employer may not deduct more than 8 hours of sleep time from an employee’s hours worked, even if the employee is permitted to sleep longer.
For individuals who reside at their employer’s place of business on a permanent basis or extended periods of time where it is difficult to calculate on-duty and off-duty hours, Montana will accept any reasonable agreement between the employer and employee governing hours worked.
Montana law requires employers to count employee travel time as hours worked in many situations. The most common situations are discussed below:
Travel to and from home
Employers typically do not need to count the time employees spend commuting to work before shifts begin or back home after shifts end as hours worked. However, an employer may be required to pay employees for travel time to and from home if the employees are called to work after their workday has ended to respond to an emergency situation and the employees must to travel an unusually long distance to get to a worksite. MT Admin. Rules 24.16.1010(2)-(3)
Travel from one workplace to another during the same workday
Montana requires employers to include all time spent by employees traveling from one workplace to another during the same workday as hours worked. This includes time spent traveling to a worksite after employees show up at a general meeting place to receive daily instruction, pick up tools and equipment, or perform similar preparatory duties. MT Admin. Rules 24.16.1010(5)
Travel to another city on one-day assignments
Montana law requires an employer count all time spent by an employee traveling to and from another city in the same day as hours worked. If the employee does not first report to his usual workplace, the employer may deduct the time the employee usually takes to commute to and from work from the time spent traveling to the other city for purposes of calculating hours worked. MT Admin. Rules 24.16.1010(4)
Travel that keeps employees away from home overnight
When employees are required to travel away from their homes and that travel spans more than one workday, an employer must include the time actually spent traveling, e.g., in a car or on airplane or train, as hours worked only if it occurs during the employee”™s normal work hours. For example, if an employee normally works from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., an employer is only required to include time spent traveling during that time period as hours worked. Time spent traveling before 8:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. would not need to be included ““ with one caveat, if the employee actually performs work while traveling, the employer must include the time spent working as hours worked.
Also, employers must count time spent by employees traveling on non-workdays as hours worked if the travel takes place during the employees”™ normal work hours. Thus, if an employee normally works Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the employee travels on Saturday, the employer would be required to count as hours worked the time spent traveling between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on that Saturday. If the employee”s travel spans that entire normal workday time period, the employer would be required to include all that time as hours worked, minus time usually given for unpaid breaks. As noted above, if the employee actually performs work on a non-workday while he or she is traveling, the employer would need to count that time as hours worked regardless of what time the work is performed.
If an employee is given the option of traveling by public transportation but the employee chooses to use a private vehicle instead, an employer may choose to include as hours worked the time the employee actually spent traveling by private vehicle or the time the employee would have taken traveling by public transportation.
Meeting, lecture, and training time
Montana requires employers to count time spent by employees in meetings, lectures, and training unless all four of the following criteria are met:
- the employee attends outside regular work hours;
- the employee attends voluntarily and in fact knows attendance voluntary;
- the meeting, lecture, or training is not directly related to the employee”™s job; and
- the employee performs no productive work while attending the meeting, lecture, or training
Attendance is consider to not be voluntary is the employee knows or is led to believe that failing to attend could result in adverse employment consequences.
Meetings, lectures, or training are directly related to an employee’s job if it helps the employee perform his or her current job duties better. It does not include meetings, lectures, or training where the employee learns new or additional skills to perform in their current position or in a new position.
Show up or reporting time
Montana law does not require employers to pay employees for reporting or showing up to work if no work is performed. An employer is also not required to pay an employee a minimum number of hours if the employer dismisses the employee from work prior to completing their scheduled shift. Employers are only required to pay employees for hours actually worked. See MT Dept. of Labor: Minimum Wage FAQ.