Lodging, Rent or Housing Set by Administrative Rule
In 2017 The Montana Legislature changed the definition of wages for the purposes of Workers Compensation related to lodging, rent, or housing if it constitutes part of the employee’s remuneration. The legislature’s intent is to provide certainty for employees, employers, and insurers and reduce the previous confusion that occurred. The definition now includes lodging, rent, or housing, if it constitutes a part of the employee’s remuneration and is based on a value as set by administrative rule.
39-71-123 Wages Defined
(1) "Wages" means all remuneration paid for services performed by an employee for an employer, or income provided for in subsection (1)(d). Wages include the cash value of all remuneration paid in any medium other than cash. The term includes but is not limited to:
(g) lodging, rent, or housing if it constitutes part of the employee's remuneration and is based on a value as set by administrative rule. The values set by administrative rule must address the general geographic proximity to available housing and may consider other reasonable factors that affect value.
The Department of Labor and Industry has adopted a new rule to implement the legislatures intent.
24.29.721 Value of Employer-Furnished Housing
(1) For the purposes of this rule, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Agricultural employer" means an employer whose operations are assigned to an agricultural classification code for workers' compensation purposes. The term is intended to be consistent with the definition of agriculture provided by 15-1-101, MCA.
(b) "Bedroom" means a room in a dwelling that is primarily used for sleeping.
(c) "Dwelling" means a building equipped for human habitation.
(d) "Zero bedrooms" means a dwelling that is an efficiency, dormitory, or a bunkhouse.
(2) For the purposes of calculating wages pursuant to 39-71-123, MCA, the monthly fair rental value, in U.S. dollars, for housing is established for each county in Montana as specified in the publication entitled "Montana Workers Compensation Housing, Rent or Lodging Monthly Rates."
(a) The publication is available online via the department's website, http://erd.dli.mt.gov.
(b) A printed copy of the publication is available to the public at no cost, upon request to the department's employment relations division.
(3) In recognition of Montana's rural nature and expansive landscape, and the fact that housing supplied by an agricultural employer is likely to be remotely situated and distant from communities with an established rental housing market, housing furnished by an agricultural employer is discounted by 50% of the fair rental value for housing established in (2) of this rule, for the county in which the dwelling is located.
(4) If an individual is not currently using the room for sleeping, it is not considered a bedroom for the purpose of this rule.
(5) The provisions of this rule apply to housing furnished any worker.
The new rule provides the Montana Workers’ Compensation Housing, Rent, or Lodging Monthly Rates and criteria for determining the value of housing, rent, or lodging if it constitutes part of the employee’s remuneration.
For questions or support related to applying the lodging, rent, or housing rate contact the claims assistance unit at 406-444-6543.
Deputy Administrator, Employment Relations Division
Workers’ Compensation Section Manager