In Montana, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ; See Langager v. Crazy Creek Products, Inc., 287 Mont. 445; 954 P.2d 1169 (Mt. Sup. Ct. 1998). If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its employment contract or established policy. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ.
Once an employee earns vacation leave, it cannot be forfeited for any reason. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ; See Langager v. Crazy Creek Products, Inc., 287 Mont. 445; 954 P.2d 1169 (Mt. Sup. Ct. 1998). This means an employee must be paid for all accrued vacation pay upon separation from employment, regardless of the reason. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ; See Langager v. Crazy Creek Products, Inc., 287 Mont. 445; 954 P.2d 1169 (Mt. Sup. Ct. 1998).
An employer cannot require an employee to comply with specific requirements in order to receive accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment, such as giving timely notice or not being terminated. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ; See Langager v. Crazy Creek Products, Inc., 287 Mont. 445; 954 P.2d 1169 (Mt. Sup. Ct. 1998).
An employer may place a reasonable cap on the vacation leave an employee can accrue. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ.
An employer cannot implement a ‘use it or lose it’ vacation policy requiring employees to use their vacation leave by a set date or lose it. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ; See Langager v. Crazy Creek Products, Inc., 287 Mont. 445; 954 P.2d 1169 (Mt. Sup. Ct. 1998).
Montana law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
An employer in Montana may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Montana law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. MT Dept. of Labor and Industry FAQ In Montana, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays.
A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
Visit our Montana State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Montana as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.
Jury Duty Leave
An employer is not required to pay an employee any wages for time spent complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury.
Under Montana law, employers wrongfully discharges employees if they retaliate against employees for their refusal to violate public policy or for reporting a violation of public policy. MT Statute 39-2-904 Under Montana law, employer are obligated to participate in jury duty unless they are exempt from doing so. MT Statute 3-15-301 to 321 Thus, employers may not terminate or take any adverse action against employees because the employees receive and/or respond to jury summons or serve jury duty.
Montana does not have a law that requires an employer to grant its employees leave, either paid or unpaid, to vote.
Montana law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.
Family and Medical Leave
Family and medical leave are available in Montana under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Like many other states, employees can consider additional state-level benefits if they require time off for medical reasons. However, the FMLA should cover most, if not all, reasons for requiring medical leave.
In Montana, employers with at least 50 employees are required to offer FMLA leave options. Employees can be eligible for this time off if they meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Have worked for the employer for a minimum of 12 months
- Have worked a minimum of 1250 hours the previous year
- Work at a location with 50+ employees within a 75-mile radius
FMLA is a policy that provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of leave within 12 months. This allotment of time off will renew every 12 months, as long as employees meet the eligibility requirements.
Additionally, if you’re caring for an ailing or injured military family member, your leave is increased to 26 weeks in 12 months. It’s important to note that the 26 weeks of time off is available per family member per injury.
Aside from caring for a military family member, there are many reasons why employees consider medical leave through FMLA. These reasons include:
- Healing from a severe illness
- Caring for an ailing family member
- Bonding with a new child
- Dealing with circumstances arising from an illness
Military members in Montana are entitled to the same benefits that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers, including:
- Employees have the right to continue group healthcare benefits for 24 months of their leave
- Upon return, employees must be reinstated to the same (or equivalent) previously held position
- Employees must receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service (with exceptions)
Individuals who must take leave to attend active military duty cannot deduct their time off from their vacation, sick leave, or any other leave.
Once their active duty is complete, employers must reinstate their employees to the same (or similar) position. This means servicemember employees must have the same status and pay upon their return.
With that said, employees must notify their employer of their military enlistment at hiring. Additionally, you will need to provide your employer with reasonable notice if you enlist in active duty.
As with any other state, employers in Montana cannot discriminate against or fire employees for engaging in military-related activities.