Salary and Benefits Information Overview

In summary, employees new to state government are eligible, on a yearly basis, to earn 15 days of vacation, 12 sick days, 10-11 holidays (depends on election cycle) as well as full health and dental benefits, life insurance and retirement.

Pay Plan

The Legislature approves a pay plan for state employees each session and appropriates money to fund the program. Montana State government maintains a number of different pay systems created through legislation or rule. Plans included herein are executive branch plans and do not include pay plans for the university system, the legislative branch, nor the judicial branch (Judges' salaries are included under Elected Officials). The Broadband Plan covers most executive branch state employees.

Salary Payment Schedule

The State of Montana pays employees every two weeks. If you are paid every two weeks, you will receive your check within 10 business days following the close of the payroll period. This delay permits the processing of an actual, not estimated, payroll. A withholding stub comes with your paycheck, which shows the number of hours worked, gross pay, net pay, and other items such as insurance, tax withholdings, deferred compensation, credit union or union deductions, voluntary charitable contributions and annual leave, sick leave and compensatory time earned and used. If you elect to have your check deposited automatically, you may receive a payroll advice form with the same information. There are 26 pay periods in each year. Standard deductions, such as insurance or credit union payments, are halved each month and deducted from 24 pay periods. During the year there are two pay periods without standard deductions.

Overtime and Compensatory Time

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FL­SA) covers the overtime and some compensatory time practices of state government. Union contracts also may influence employee eligibility for overtime pay. Some employees may be exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA. They may be eligible for benefits under the state's administrative rules.


There is no mandatory retirement age for state employees. Membership in the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) is mandatory for most state employees and begins on the first day of employment. Mandatory contributions to PERS are tax deferred and may not be refunded for any reason before termination of covered employment. PERS provides retirement, disability and death benefits to over 27,000 state, school district and local government employees. In addition to PERS, the public employees' retirement division also administers the Game Wardens', Judges', Sheriffs', and Highway Patrol Officers Retirement Systems for eligible state employees.

Health and Life Insurance Group Benefits

The State of Montana has developed a comprehensive group insurance benefits program including medical plan options with prescription drug and vision exam coverage, dental plan, an employee assistance program (EAP), life insurance options, flexible spending account options, and long term care insurance. The current state contribution covers the cost of your "core" medical, dental and basic life insurance; you may obtain optional coverage for yourself or your eligible dependents at additional costs. A health promotion program designed to reduce overall insurance costs by offering wellness and prevention classes and biannual health screening is also available.

Deferred Compensation

The State of Montana deferred compensation program is a voluntary supplemental retirement program authorized by Internal Revenue Codes and Montana law. The program allows you to defer, through payroll deduction, specified amounts of current income pre-tax before state or federal taxes are calculated. The amount you defer, and any resulting investment income, is not taxable until you begin receiving the money, usually at retirement.

Worker's Compensation

If you have an accident on the job, Workers' Compensation insurance may cover you.

Unemployment Insurance

You are covered by unemployment insurance. You can receive benefits, in most cases, if you become unemployed through no fault of your own.

Annual Vacation Leave

You earn annual vacation leave credits from your first day of employment, but you must be employed for six calendar months before you can use them. If you are a full-time employee, you earn credits at a yearly rate calculated according to the following schedule, which applies to the total number of years you have been a state or local government employee in Montana, whether or not your employment was interrupted. If your employment status is something other than full-time, your leave credits will be calculated on a prorated basis. Under certain conditions, military service time may count toward the rate earned. Rate earned schedule is:

Years of Employment Working Days Credit Per Year
1 day through 10 years 15
10 years through 15 years 18
15 years through 20 years 21
20 years or more 24

Prior Service Credit

Prior service as a public employee, whether it was from another state agency, the university system, or other "local" public employment, may be eligible for transfer to the state. Reference the Benefits Transfer Tool to determine which benefits are eligible for transfer. If you feel you have prior service eligible for transfer you should contact your agency's HR office to discuss the Prior Service Certification Instructions & Form.

Sick Leave

You earn sick leave credits from your first day of employment, but you must be employed for 90 days before you are eligible to use them. Full-time employees earn one day of sick leave credit a month and benefits for other employees are prorated. You can use sick leave for personal illness, injury, medical disability, maternity related disability or immediately following your child's birth or placement for adoption, quarantine resulting from exposure to a contagious disease, medical, dental, or eye examination or treatment, care of or attendance to an immediate family member for any of these reasons, or to other relatives at the agency's discretion, and death and funeral attendance of immediate family members and others at agency discretion.

Sick Leave Fund

You may join the Sick Leave Fund by contributing eight hours of your sick or vacation leave to the fund. (Contributions and benefits are prorated for part-time employees.) If you experience an extensive illness or accident which causes you to exhaust all of your accrued leave, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the fund. You also may directly grant sick leave to another employee who has experienced an extensive illness or accident or receive direct grants from your co-workers, if you are ill or injured and exhaust your leave.

Holiday Leave

Holidays for state employees are:

  1. New Year's Day, January 1
  2. Martin Luther King Day, the third Monday in January
  3. Lincoln's and Washington's Birthday, the third Monday in February
  4. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May
  5. Independence Day, July 4
  6. Labor Day, the first Monday in September
  7. Columbus Day, the second Monday in October
  8. Veteran's Day, November 11
  9. Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November
  10. Christmas Day, December 25
  11. State General Election Day, on even numbered years.

Jury Duty and Witness Leave

State employees may serve as witnesses or on a jury when they are properly summoned or subpoenaed.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) entitles an employee to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job protected leave, and state contribution toward insurance benefits in a 12-month period for the following conditions:

  1. birth of a son or daughter and to care for the child;
  2. placement of child for adoption or foster care;
  3. care of spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition; and
  4. an employee's serious health condition.

New Leave Entitlement - Eligible employees who are a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin service members who are recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty, are entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to provide care for the service member.

State employees may be eligible for FMLA leave when they have worked for the State of Montana for a total of 12 months, and for 1,040 hours during the 12 months before beginning FMLA leave. Eligible state employees are entitled to use accrued sick leave, annual leave, compensatory time or leave without pay during an absence designated as FMLA leave.

Maternity and Parental Leave

Montana law requires that all employers provide a reasonable leave of absence for maternity leave and that you receive the same or a comparable job when you are ready to return to work. State government has adopted rules that provide that six weeks is a reasonable leave after the birth of a child. State employees who are adoptive parents and birth fathers may take up to 15 days parental leave immediately following the birth or placement of a child. You may request to take sick leave, annual leave, leave without pay, compensatory time or other appropriate paid leave.

Leave for Annual Military Training

You must be granted up to 15 paid working days per year for annual training with any reserve component of the armed forces. You must be employed six calendar months to be eligible to receive paid military leave. When you are on authorized paid military leave, you will receive your regular salary. You should request leave in advance to attend annual training. You also must submit a copy of your orders directing you to report for training with your leave request. The 15 days of military leave cannot be charged to any vacation leave you have accrued.

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