Wage Payment Act

Defines Wages

Any money due an employee from the employer or employers, whether to be paid by the hour, day, week, semi-monthly or yearly and shall include bonus, piece work, tips and gratuities of any kind.

- 39-3-201(6)(a) MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Establishes when wages are due and payable.

Within ten (10) business days after they are due and payable while the employee is still employed.

If the employee quits, wages are not due until the next pay day for the period in which the employee was separated, or 15 days, whichever occurs first. This applies to public sector, private sector, and employers from within the state of Montana as well as employers whose payroll originates outside the state of Montana.

If an employee is laid off, or discharged, all wages are due immediately unless the employer has a pre-existing, written personnel policy that extends the time for payment. The wages cannot be delayed beyond the next pay day for the period in which the separation occurred, or 15 days, whichever occurs first.

In the case of an employee discharged for allegations of theft connected to the employee's work, an employer may withhold the value of the theft provided:

1. The employee agrees in writing to the withholding, or;

2. Charges have been filed with law enforcement within seven business days of separation.

If no charges are filed with a court of competent jurisdiction within 30 days of the filing of the report with law enforcement, the wages are due within the 30-day period. If the employee is found not guilty of the charges or the employer withholds in excess of the value of the theft, the court may order the employer to pay the withheld amount plus interest.

- 39-3-205 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Limits withholdings of wages to room, board and other incidentals furnished by the employer as part of the employment agreement.

Wages cannot be withheld for shortages, damages or mistakes

Attorney General Opinion No. 17, Volume 36 dated August 27, 1975 held "An employer cannot withhold the wages or any portion thereof due and owing to an employee as wages earned, and apply such wages for damages caused by employee negligence during the course of his employment, for truck mileage which was not authorized by the employer, for both costs in retrieving property abandoned by the employee during the course of his employment and per diem fines therefore, for costs of avoidable cargo losses caused by employee poor judgment and for liability insurance deductible costs occasioned by employee negligence, which the employee has contracted to have deducted as a condition to the employment."

Attorney General Opinion No. 11, Volume 25 dated March 25, 1953 held "An employer cannot withhold the wages or any portion thereof due and owing to an employee as wages earned, and apply such wages to an account which the employee has with the employer unless the account existing between the employer and employee is for board, room or other incidentals which the employee has agreed may be deducted as a condition to the employment."

Provides a penalty for failure to pay wages when due and payable in an amount up to 110 percent on wages not paid as specified above.

- 39-3-206 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Voids any contract between an employer and employee that does not comply with the wage and hour laws.

- 39-3-206 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Assigns the responsibility of administering wage and hour laws to the Commissioner and gives investigative powers to his representatives.

  • Field/Business Inspections
  • Wage Claims

- 39-3-210 & 39-3-211 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Provides for a mediation process to resolve cases prior to an administrative hearing.

- 39-3-216 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

Provides for an administrative hearing in those cases that are not resolved informally.

- 39-3-216 MCA (Montana Code Annotated)

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