10-1-1007. Right to return to employment without loss of benefits -- exceptions -- definition. (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, after a leave of absence for state military duty, a member is entitled to return to employment with the same seniority, status, pay, health insurance, pension, and other benefits as the member would have accrued if the member had not been absent for the state military duty.
(2) (a) If a member was a probationary employee when ordered to state military duty, the employer may require the member to resume the member's probationary period from the date when the member's leave of absence for state military duty began.
(b) An employer may decide whether or not to authorize the member to accrue sick leave, vacation leave, military leave, or other leave benefits during the member's leave of absence for state military duty. However, the member may not be provided with lesser leave accrual benefits than are provided to all other employees of the employer in a similar but nonmilitary leave status.
(c) (i) An employer's health plan must provide that:
(A) a member may elect to not remain covered under the employer's health plan while the member is on state military duty but that when the member returns, the member may resume coverage under the plan without the plan considering the employee to have incurred a break in service; and
(B) a member may elect to remain on the employer's health plan while the member is on state military duty without being required to pay more than the regular employee share of the premium, except as provided in subsection (2)(c)(ii).
(ii) If a member's state military duty qualifies the member for coverage under the state of Montana's health insurance plan as an employee of the department of military affairs, the employer's health plan may require the member to pay up to 102% of the full premium for continued coverage.
(iii) A health insurance plan covering an employee who is a member serving on state military duty is not required to cover any illness or injury caused or aggravated by state military duty.
(iv) If the member is a state employee prior to being ordered to state military duty, the member does not become qualified as an employee of the department of military affairs for the purposes of health plan coverage until the member's state military duty qualifies the member to be considered an employee of the department of military affairs pursuant to 2-18-701.
(d) An employer's pension plan must provide that when a member returns to employment from state military duty:
(i) the member's period of state military duty may constitute service with the employer or employers maintaining the plan for the purposes of determining the nonforfeitability of the member's accrued benefits and for the purposes of determining the accrual of benefits under the plan; and
(ii) if the member elects to receive credit and makes the contributions required to accrue the pension benefits that the member would have accrued if the member had not been absent for the state military duty, then the employer shall pay the amount of the employer contribution that would have been made for the member if the member had not been absent.
(e) An employer is not obligated to allow the member to return to employment after the member's absence for state military duty if:
(i) the member is no longer qualified to perform the duties of the position, subject to the provisions of 49-2-303 prohibiting employment discrimination because of a physical or mental disability;
(ii) the member's position was temporary and the temporary employment period has expired;
(iii) the member's request to return to employment was not done in a timely manner;
(iv) the employer's circumstances have changed so significantly that the member's continued employment with the employer cannot reasonably be expected;
(v) the member's return to employment would cause the employer an undue hardship;
(vi) the member did not inform the employer at the time of hire that the member was a member of the state's organized militia or the national guard of another state; or
(vii) the member enlisted in the state's organized militia or another state's national guard during the course of employment with the employer and did not inform the employer of the enlistment.
(3) (a) For the purposes of this section and except as provided in subsection (3)(b), "timely manner" means:
(i) for state military duty of up to 30 days, the member returned to employment the next regular work shift following safe travel time plus 8 hours;
(ii) for state military duty of 30 days to 180 days, the member returned to employment within 14 days of termination of state military duty; and
(iii) for state military duty of more than 180 days, the member returned to employment within 90 days of termination of the state military duty.
(b) If there are extenuating circumstances that preclude the member from returning to employment within the time period provided in subsection (3)(a) through no fault of the member, then for the purposes of this section "timely manner" means within the time period specified by the adjutant general provided for in 2-15-1202.
History: En. Sec. 7, Ch. 381, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 235, L. 2015; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 363, L. 2015.