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Montana’s Mask Mandate

While there are strong opinions on each side regarding the effectiveness of masks, we now have an order that businesses will want to comply with.  Associated Employers’ HR hotline is ready to assist you, and we have included details in this e-blast to help.  The actual Governor’s Order, a recommended poster and our Covid-19 resource page are readily accessible on our website.  Also, this Montana URL allows you to know if your county has the required four or more active cases that fall under this order. 

Order applies to MT counties with 4+ active cases – map updated at 10:00 a.m. daily –
(Click image for map)

It is very important to note that there are several exceptions, and in regards to some employees, the order applies only to: “those employees, volunteers, and contractors in public-facing work spaces are required to wear face coverings as specified in this Directive.”  Please read the other exceptions in Section 4 of the order.  Employers must provide masks to their employees and volunteers but not their clients/customers. 

A second important note is that businesses do have legal protections. If you have made a reasonable and good faith effort to comply: “Businesses, other persons responsible for indoor spaces open to the public, and sponsors of organized outdoor activities are entitled to reasonably rely in good faith on the representations of employees, volunteers, contractors, customers, visitors, or members of the public regarding the applicability of the exceptions in section 4 of this Directive. Reasonable, good faith reliance on such representations is an affirmative and complete defense to any enforcement proceedings brought pursuant to this Directive.”

Ideas for Employers to consider:

Consider an all-staff meeting to discuss Governor Bullock’s order and how you’ll operate within it.  Management should be consistent in their message and support of the order and applicable business practices (regardless of personal opinion).

If you, as an employer, are experiencing any resistance from your employees, approach each employee privately and explain that we are trying to comply with the Governor’s mandate – it is not our rule – but because you are a public-facing employee or work in an area that is publicly accessible, this mandate applies to you unless you meet an exception. We recommend employers post a poster that lists some of the exceptions.

If an employee has a reason that does not readily fall under #4 Exceptions – show empathy, explain again that because of the work that they do the Governor’s directive does apply to the business and to them individually.  We as a business must follow the order.  Open dialogue with that employee, talk about possible alternative solutions and with more information you may learn that they do fall under one of the exceptions.  Employers need to make reasonable good faith efforts. The directive states you should reasonably rely in good faith on the representations of employees, volunteers, contractors, customers, visitors, or members of the public that they meet an exception.  

Do not hesitate to call the AE HR Hotline if you want further best practice guidance or to discuss individual circumstances.