Letters telling unemployment recipients to look for work are no longer applicable

Posted at 7:10 AM, Apr 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 09:17:50-04

HELENA — There has been some confusion around the changes brought on by the coronavirus, including in Montana’s unemployment insurance system.

Some Montanans reported they recently received a letter from the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI), saying that they were no longer “job-attached,” and that they needed to begin looking for work in order to continue receiving benefits.

A department spokesperson confirmed to MTN that people who apply for unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 emergency do not need to show they are searching for work. They said emergency rules have removed the work search requirement for anyone who filed an unemployment claim due to COVID-19, and temporarily waived it for other claims.

The spokesperson said these letters are no longer applicable because of the emergency rule changes, and that it will not hold up payments if people are otherwise eligible.

Labor and Industry reported making more than $62 million in unemployment insurance payments last week, including an additional $600 weekly benefit approved by Congress as part of the CARES Act relief package. Department leaders announced Tuesday that they will also begin processing UI claims for self-employed people, independent contractors and others who are not eligible for regular benefits – another provision of the CARES Act.

DLI encourages anyone who believes they may be eligible for UI to file a claim online at, or at for those that fall under the PUA eligibility guidelines.

In addition to the expansion of UI benefits under the CARES Act, Governor Steve Bullock recently issued a directive to minimize the time Montanans await UI benefits, and waived the requirement that claimants search for a job during this time.

DLI is providing daily updates for employers and individuals impacted by COVID-19 on its website.