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24.16.1505    DEFINING THE TERM "FURNISHED AS APPLIED TO BOARD, LODGING, OR OTHER FACILITIES

(1) Section 39-3-402 (7) MCA applies to both of the following situations:

(a) Where board, lodging, or other facilities are furnished in addition to a stipulated wage; and

(b) Where charges for board, lodging, or other facilities are deducted from a stipulated wage. The use of the word "furnishing" clearly indicates that this section was intended to apply to all facilities furnished by the employer as compensation to the employee, regardless of whether the employer calculates charges for such facilities as additions to or deductions from wages.

(2) The reasonable cost of board, lodging, or other facilities may be considered as part of the wage paid an employee only where customarily "furnished" to the employee. Not only must the employee receive the benefits of the facility for which he is charged, but it is essential that his acceptance of the facility be voluntary and uncoerced.

(3) The reasonable cost of board, lodging, or other facilities may be considered as part of the wage paid an employee only where "customarily" furnished to the employee. Where such facilities are "furnished" to the employee, it will be considered a sufficient satisfaction of this requirement if the facilities are furnished regularly by the employer to his employees or if the same or similar facilities are customarily furnished by other employers engaged in the same or similar trade, business, or occupation in the same or similar communities. Facilities furnished in violation of any Federal, State, or local law, ordinance or prohibition will not be considered facilities "customarily" furnished.

(4) "Other facilities".

(a) "Other facilities" as used in this section, must be something like board or lodging. The following items have been deemed to be within the meaning of the term: Meals furnished at company restaurants or cafeterias or by hospitals, hotels, or restaurants to their employees; meals, dormitory rooms, and tuition furnished by a college to its student employees' housing furnished for dwelling purposes; general merchandise furnished at company stores and commissaries (including articles of food, clothing, and household effects) ; fuel (including coal, kerosene, firewood, and lumber slabs) , electricity, water, and gas furnished for the noncommercial personal use of the employee; transportation furnished employees between their homes and work where the travel time does not constitute hours worked compensable and the transportation is not an incident of and necessary to the employment.

(b) It should also be noted that the cost of furnishing "facilities" which are primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer will not be recognized as reasonable and may not therefore be included in computing wages. Items which have been held to be primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer and are not therefore to be considered "facilities" include: Safety caps, explosives, and miner's lamps (in the mining industry) ; electric power (used for commercial production in the interest of the employer) ; company police and guard protection; taxes and insurance on the employer's buildings which are not used for lodgings furnished to the employee, "dues" to chambers of commerce and other organizations used for example to repay subsidies given to the employer to locate his factory in a particular community; transportation charges where such transportation is an incident of and necessary to the employment; charges for rental of uniforms where the nature of the business requires the employee to wear a uniform; medical services and hospitalization which the employer is bound to furnish under workmen's compensation acts, or similar Federal, State, or local law. On the other hand, meals are always regarded as primarily for the benefit and convenience of the employee.

History: Sec. 39-3-403, MCA; IMP, Sec. 39-3-402, MCA; Eff. 12/31/72.

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