PREPARING FOR COVID-19
The economic impact of COVID-19 has already adversely impacted Montanans, and the livelihoods of many are at stake. Public safety comes first, and we must all do our part to slow the spread of the virus. We are in this together, and we must keep Montanans working to the largest extent possible without compromising public health and safety.
Montana Employees covered by Unemployment Insurance (Report put together by Fiscal Legislative Leaders)
Montana employers pay into the federal and state Unemployment Insurance programs in the form of a tax based on a percentage of total employee wages. Montana employees have their portion of the tax withheld from their paychecks. The federal portion of the payments are held in the Unemployment account of the federal government and the state portion is held in the Montana Unemployment Insurance Fund. Both the federal and state funds are used to pay unemployment benefits to employees when they are involuntarily laid off.
In the event of a disaster, the Governor and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry have broad authority to adjust benefits and eligibility for Unemployment Insurance. The Conservative Solution Caucus made a proposal to the Governor to adjust Unemployment Insurance eligibility, administration and payments to employees to address the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 17, 2020, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry found that there is “imminent peril to the public welfare that widespread, temporary layoffs will cause serious economic harm to employees who are not paid during periods of layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” New rules were adopted based on the “necessity to immediately adopt temporary emergency rules for unemployment insurance purposes in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare because of the emergency conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Montana Administrative Register 24-11-355).
The following employees are deemed to be temporarily laid off:
1. An employee directed by the employer to leave work or not report to work due to the employer’s response to COVID-19, including reduced demand or availability of materials
2. An employee subject to COVID-19 quarantine
3. An employee who is a caregiver of a family member who is the subject of a COVID-19 quarantine
Employees receiving unemployment benefits must be “able, available, and seeking suitable work” and will be deemed as such when:
1. The employer intends to recall the employee back to work at the end of the temporary layoff
2. The employee intends to return to work when recalled by the employer and stays in contact with the employer
Employees who refuse work that can be performed while complying with the terms of the quarantine will not be eligible for benefits.
Specific information on filing for benefits, frequently asked questions, and additional information may be found at the Montana Department of Labor and Industry website http://dli.mt.gov/employer-covid-19.
Information For FirstResponders on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Information For Law Enforcement on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
If you are facing employment challenges
you don’t have to quit your job for benefits if you’re furloughed – paid emergency leave may be available: http://dli.mt.gov/Portals/57/Documents/24-11-355adp-emerg.pdf
If you need a small business loan
there are Federal Disaster Loans for Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners, and Renters that are available for losses related to this outbreak: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
If you are worried about the cost of testing for COVID-19
testing is in most cases free: xall your health care provider to discuss whether you are a candidate for testing before appearing in person. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can call a community health center or urgent care clinic about getting tested.
If you are worried about how to feed your child or children when school is not in session
many school districts have “Grab and Go” available: check your local school district website
If you want to help out
consider donating funds and not goods, to your local foodbank: https://mfbn.org/donate/
If you your license has expired
Montana has extending license renewals dates: https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana-suspending-driver-tests-extending-license-renewals-in-response-to/article_269cd453-5345-5584-8ca2-06e0bd0fb381.html?fbclid=IwAR0q-j8Ux23k97sLGcng5bdvcuoxKLuhe3nl2SnEPtiRhLbBBh4LMwCFfh8
If you are worried about getting your taxes complete
the federal tax deadline was delayed 90 days
If you are elderly and worried about groceries
several stores are providing on-line ordering and special hours for those over 60
If you are feeling isolated or in need
small community groups are forming on-line to support each other and provide resources to their neighbors: ask for help, Montanans
If you are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, or stress
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak has the potential to increase stress and anxiety, both because of the fear of catching the virus and because of uncertainty about how the outbreak will affect us socially and economically. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/index.asp
Near-Term Economic Options for COVID-19 Situation
Montanans are proud to be independent and self sufficient. We work hard to support our families. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The disaster relief approved by the federal government to address the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic is an important shot of adrenaline into our state’s economy. These extraordinary measures are necessary to help Montanans make ends meet while we weather this storm. And it’s our goal that every Montana family has access to the resources they need to keep themselves, and their family, safe and healthy.
Montana is a small business state with 91% of our businesses employing less than twenty employees.If you are worried about your employment or are considering shutting your doors, take advantage of the small business loans and relief packages. Access these loans and have cash on hand in order to weather this situation.
If you find yourself temporarily without work, you should apply for unemployment insurance as the state rules have changed so that displaced workers can keep receiving benefits with job-attached status. Job-attached means that you can receive benefits when you are not working and do not have to reapply when it is time to work again, so long as you return to work when this situation subsides. The Montana Unemployment Insurance Fund is on solid footing with 360 million dollars in reserves. This is not a bailout, but rather the quickest way to take care of hard-working people and ensure our economy can rebound as you practice social distancing. State of Montana Unemployment LINK
Small Business Resources
The Paycheck Protection Program authorizes loans up to $10 million for qualified businesses and loan payments will be deferred for six months. If you maintain your workforce, the Small Business Association will “forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.” The Federal Government has set aside $349 billion for this program to keep American Workers paid and employed. According to the SBA “small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.” Paycheck Protection Program LINK
SBA Express Bridge Loans
Express Bridge Loan Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000. SBA Loan Program LINK
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
There are also Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) available up to $2 million with an interest rate of 3.75 percent and have a maximum term of 30 years. EIDL Loans LINK
Information for lenders,
For information for borrowers,
click here: LINK