Keeping ahead of COVID-19
This rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) has imposed a fluid situation upon our community and its businesses. The team here still aims to maintain a “business as usual” approach, we are still meeting with clients in person. We are also offering video and telephone appointments to all our clients.
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COVID 19 FAQs for Montana Businesses & Employers
Updated 3/24/20

WHAT BUSINESSES ARE UNDER STATE SHUTDOWN ORDER?

  • Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses and other similar establishments offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption.
  • Alcoholic beverage service businesses, including bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, special licensees, clubs, and other establishments offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Cigar bars.
  • Health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers, pools and hot springs, indoor facilities at ski areas, climbing gyms, fitness studios and indoor recreational facilities.
  • Movie and performance theaters, nightclubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls.

CAN I STILL OFFER TO-GO AND DELIVERY SERVICES IF I OPERATE A BAR OR RESTAURANT?

Yes. Restaurants and bars who offer food services are still permitted to offer food options to customers for pick-up or delivery only. Pick-up does not need to occur curbside, and can take place within the premises. The restriction prevents any dine-in services. In an unprecedented move, Governor Bullock has allowed breweries to offer growlers and canned beer to the public for pick-up or delivery.

IF A SHUTDOWN OF ALL NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES IS ORDERED BY THE STATE, HOW WILL I KNOW IF MY BUSINESS PROVIDES ESSENTIAL VERSUS NON-ESSENTIAL SERVICES?

If the Governor takes this step, guidance will be provided to delineate essential and non-essential businesses. Generally, grocery stores, gas stations, health care services, and banks are considered to be amongst those businesses classified as “essential.”

HOW LONG IS THE STATE SHUTDOWN EXPECTED TO LAST?

The current shut down notice is effective through March 27, although Governor Bullock has warned that this is likely to be extended.

WHAT ASSISTANCE IS AVAILABLE FOR MY LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES?

Governor Bullock has mandated that employees affected by COVID layoffs are entitled to unemployment benefits and do not need to exhaust the customary 1 week “waiting period” to receive benefits. Due to influx of new claimants over the last week, claimants can expect to still wait about 1 week to receive unemployment benefits. Employees who have received a reduction in hours can also seek unemployment benefits. Claimants can file unemployment claims via the state site, montanaworks.gov.

IF MY BUSINESS IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE STATE SHUT DOWN ORDER AND WE SHUT DOWN VOLUNTARILY, ARE MY EMPLOYEES STILL ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS?

Yes. The Order allows a claimant directed by their employer to leave work or not report to work due to COVID-19 to qualify as being temporarily laid off by the employer and eligible for benefits. Workers who must quarantine or who need to take care of a family member due to COVID-19 are also considered temporarily laid off and eligible for benefits.

IS THE BUSINESS REQUIRED TO PAY OUT EARNED “PAID TIME OFF” (PTO) AT THE TIME OF LAY-OFF?

The Emergency Order did not address this question, however, current law says Employer must pay out earned PTO with the employee’s final paycheck.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY EMPLOYEE’S HEALTH CARE COVERAGE IF THEY ARE LAID OFF?

This is likely determined by the Health Plan in place for your employees. Typically, if an employee is laid off and not working, their health coverage will terminate at the end of the month in which the employee is laid off.

IS THERE ASSISTANCE FOR HEALTH COVERAGE FOR LAID-OFF EMPLOYEES?

On March 17, Governor Bullock declared that testing and treatment of COVID-19 will be covered for uninsured Montanans. The individual would need to provide a recommendation from a physician to receive COVID-19 testing and treatment, and the state will cover those costs.

WHAT IF MY NATIONAL GUARD RESERVE EMPLOYEE IS CALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY TO ASSIST WITH THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK?

Federal law requires that any military reserve members are entitled to a 5 year unpaid leave when they are called to active duty, and a return to their previous job and benefits upon their release from active duty.

IF MY EMPLOYEE CONTRACTS COVID-19 AT WORK, ARE THEY ENTITLED TO WORKER’S COMPENSATION BENEFITS?

At this time, no. These claims are not covered by Work Comp.

Important Update from the IRS

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus

 

**This publication does not constitute legal advice. Please contact either the Bozeman (406-582-8822) or Helena (406-449-4829) locations of Silverman Law Office with questions about your specific situation. We are here to help!**

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