This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Montana.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Montana.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No federal or state laws require employers to offer paid or unpaid vacation time in Montana. Employers can choose whether or not to provide paid time off as a benefit, but if they do, certain rules must be followed.
Use It or Lose It policies for earned vacation time are not legal in Montana.
Montana law considers earned vacation time as a form of wages, and cannot be taken away from the employee.
On the matter, the Montana supreme court has stated the following:
“We conclude, however, that once an employee has accrued paid vacation pursuant to the terms of his or her employment contract, an employer may not then impose conditions subsequent which would, if unmet, effectively divest an employee of that accrued vacation.”
This appears, however, to only apply to earned/accrued benefits like vacation time, and not sick leave.
The law is not clear in Montana on whether unused PTO must be paid out upon separation (e.g. when an employee quits, retires or is let go).
As mentioned, the state of Montana considers earned vacation time as a form of wages, and any unused vacation time would have to be paid out upon separation.
However, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry states:
“Private sector employers are not required to pay out severance pay, sick leave, or paid time off (PTO).”
“In the case of a PTO benefit, payout of this benefit is dependent on the employer’s policy.”
This would suggest that payout of unused PTO is not required in all situations – but if a company does not pay out unused PTO, they should clearly state this in a written policy.
Sick leave is not required by law in Montana, paid or unpaid.
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Montana must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
Montana has the following official state holidays:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr Day|
|3rd Monday in February||Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|2nd Monday in October||Columbus Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays, and employees required to work on state holidays are not legally entitled to extra compensation (such as higher pay or a compensatory day off), unless promised in their employment contract.
Employees in Montana are entitled to a “reasonable leave of absence” for maternity leave. The Montana Department of Labor and Industry states that a reasonable leave for a normal pregnancy and delivery is considered to be six to eight weeks after delivery.
This leave is not required to be paid.
The FMLA also applies for maternity leave, entitling new mothers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, as well as the placement of a new adoption or foster.
Paternity leave is not required by law in Montana, but fathers have the same right to unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks for the birth of their child, or a new adoption or fostered child.
There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave in Montana.
Employees are not required to be paid for time off spent serving jury duty, but they must be allowed to serve on a jury without being discharged, threatened or punished.
There is no law regarding voting leave in Montana.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Montana, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Montana state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.