As restrictions ease and people begin to head back to work, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry offers some tips and guidelines in the COVID 19 era.

Public Information Officer Lauren Lewis said her department has created a new website with answers to many often-asked questions.

“Many businesses are reopening and people are beginning to return to work during Phase One of the reopening of Montana’s economy,” said Lewis. “To help Montanans at this time we’ve launched a new page on our COVID 19 website focused on providing information to Montana employers and employees at doi.mt.gov/.returntowork.”

Lewis said there are some who may not want to return to work for a variety of reasons.

“We just want to remind Montanans that employees must have a specified reason for refusing offers to return to work to remain eligible for unemployment benefits,” she said. “That means that if you have a reason that is related top the COVID 19 pandemic, such as that you need to care for your kids who are unable to attend their normal classes at school or their daycare is closed, then you may continue to be eligible for benefits.”

Lewis assured returning workers that their employers are required to make sure the workplace is safe and secure.

“Employers are obligated to accommodate their employees and assure a safe working environment,” she said. “Local public health officials have the authority to ensure the health and safety of the public, so employees can contact their local public health officials if they have questions or if they believe their employers are violating the safety or social distancing directives.”

The Department of Labor and Industry continues to encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI to file a claim online at MontanaWorks.gov, or at mtpua.mt.gov for those that fall under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance eligibility guidelines.