Labor and Employment Law Overview: Mississippi
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
- The Mississippi Employment Protection Act establishes employers' verification obligations for new hires. See Recruiting and Hiring.
- Mississippi employers may administer drug and alcohol tests on applicants and employees in certain circumstances. See Preemployment Screening and Testing.
- Under state law, employers are prohibited from taking adverse employment action against employees because of how they vote. See Political Influence.
- Employees who engage in certain activities, including reporting violations of the law, are protected from retaliation. See Whistleblower Protection.
- Mississippi law limits the number of hours minors may work. See Child Labor.
- State law specifies how frequently employees must be paid. See Employee Compensation.
- Employers in Mississippi are prohibited from interfering with an employee's jury service. See Leaves of Absence.
Recruiting and Hiring
New Hire Reporting
The Mississippi Employment Protection Act requires Mississippi employers of all sizes to use E-Verify for determining whether applicants are eligible to work in the US. Employers must also report, to the Mississippi State Directory of New Hires, newly hired and rehired workers, including the date they first perform services for pay. See +Miss. Code Ann. § 71-7-5. For more information, see Payroll > New Hire Reporting: Mississippi.
Preemployment Screening and Testing
Drug and Alcohol Testing
State law permits employers to administer employment related drug and alcohol tests under three circumstances:
- Employers may test applicants for drug and alcohol and may refuse to hire an applicant based on a positive test result.
- Employers may test a current employee who the employer has a reasonable suspicion is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work.
- Employers may engage in random or routine testing in certain situations.
See +Miss. Code Ann. § 71-7-5. For more information, see Recruiting and Hiring > Preemployment Screening and Testing: Mississippi.
Certain employers routinely administer drug and alcohol tests on current employees. Under state law, such routine testing is permissible:
- As part of employees' fitness for duty medical examination;
- As a follow-up to an employee's drug or alcohol rehabilitation program; and
- In accordance with an applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Private employers may also administer random drug and alcohol tests on current employees, so long as:
- Under the mechanism for determining which employees will be tested, each employee has an equal probability of being selected; and
- The employer does not have the authority to waive testing of any selected employee.
Like private employers, certain public employers may administer random tests. Public employers may administer random drug and alcohol testing if the employer is engaged in law enforcement or has:
- Responsibility for state or national security;
- Drug indication responsibility; or
- Positions in which employees have:
- The right to carry firearms;
- Access to confidential or otherwise sensitive information;
- An obligation to obtain security clearance;
- An impact on public health or safety; and
- Impact law enforcement.
See +Miss. Code Ann. § 71-7-7. For more information, see Recruiting and Hiring > Preemployment Screening and Testing: Mississippi.
Employers who opt to utilize drug and alcohol tests must, 30 days prior to implementing a drug and alcohol testing program, provide affected employees with a written policy containing, at least, the following information:
- A statement advising employees Mississippi has a statute governing drug and alcohol testing;
- Confidentiality statement;
- Procedures for reporting employees' use of legal drugs;
- Who may be tested and under what circumstances;
- Consequences of refusing to submit to a drug or alcohol test;
- Rehabilitation and assessment opportunities for employees with a positive test result who the employer decides not to terminate (e.g., employee assistance program);
- List of the drugs the employer will test for;
- A statement advising the employee of his or her right to contest or explain a positive test result; and
- A statement concerning the applicability of any collective bargaining agreement.
See +Miss. Code Ann. § 71-7-3. For more information, see Recruiting and Hiring > Preemployment Screening and Testing: Mississippi.
Smoking as a Condition for Employment or Continued Employment
Mississippi law prohibits any private or public employer from requiring, as a condition of employment, that any employee or applicant for employment abstain from smoking or using tobacco products during nonworking hours. For more information, see Recruiting and Hiring > Preemployment Screening and Testing: Mississippi.
Mississippi employers should comply with federal antidiscrimination laws. Mississippi does not have a general antidiscrimination statute or state agency responsible for enforcing antidiscrimination laws. Mississippi employees' recourse is to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Mississippi law does, however, prohibit employers from discriminating against employees who use their lawful break time to express breast milk. See +Miss. Code Ann. § 71-1-55. For more information, see Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination: Mississippi.
A Mississippi law makes it unlawful for an employer to do the following because of an employee's vote, or failure to vote, for any particular candidate or group of candidates:
- Discharge or threaten to discharge the employee;
- Increase or decrease the employee's salary or wages; or
- Otherwise promote or demote the employee.
Any person who is a whistleblower enjoys protection from workplace reprisal or retaliatory action. A whistleblower is an employee who:
- In good faith, reports an alleged improper governmental action to a state investigative body, initiating an investigation;
- In good faith, provides information to a state investigative body; or
- Is believed to have reported alleged improper governmental action to a state investigative body but who, in fact, has not reported such action or provided such information.
Child Labor Laws
A state child labor law places limitations on the hours of work minors can perform.
Mississippi law requires employers to pay most employees twice a month. The following employers must comply:
- Every corporation, company, association, partnership and individual person engaged in manufacturing of any kind in this state that employs:
- As many as 50 or more employees; and
- Public labor; and
- Every public service corporation doing business in this state.
Covered employers must make full payment to employees for services performed as follows:
- As often as once every two weeks or twice during each calendar month; or
- On the second and fourth Saturday, respectively, of each month.
Payment must occur within 10 days of performing labor or services. Public service corporations may, nonetheless, pay employees within 15 days. For more information, seePayroll > Payment of Wages: Mississippi.
Minimum Wage and Overtime
Mississippi employers must follow federal minimum wage and overtime laws.
Leaves of Absence
Bone Marrow and Organ Donor Leave
The Mississippi Organ Donor Leave Act only applies to state employees. The Act provides paid leave for state employees who donate an organ, bone marrow, blood or blood platelets. After obtaining employers' permission, state employees may take Bone Marrow and Organ Donor leave as follows:
- 30 days in any 12 month period to serve as a bone marrow donor;
- 30 days in any 12 month period to serve as an organ donor;
- One hour to donate blood every 56 days; and
- Up to two hours to donate blood platelets.
Employees may only be granted leave to donate blood up to 24 times in a 12 month period. See +Miss. Code Ann. § 25-3-103.
Private employers may not terminate employees who take leave to perform military service. There is no obligation for private employers to pay employees for that time off.
Public employees are entitled to take a leave of absence of up to 15 days to perform military obligations and may do so without loss of pay, time, annual leave or efficiency rating. If a public sector employee's military leave extends past 15 days, the leave period will continue without loss of time, annual leave or efficiency rating and the employee will have certain reinstatement rights. For more information, see Employee Leaves > Other Leaves: Mississippi.
Major Medical Leave
Mississippi law only provides major medical leave to state employees. State employees may accrue major medical leave to be used for the employee's, or the employee's family member's, injury or illness. Employees of public universities who do not make contributions to the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System or the State Institutions of Higher Learning Optional Retirement Program are not entitled to accrue major medical leave. See +Miss. Code Ann. § 25-3-95. For more information, see Employee Leaves > Other Leaves: Mississippi.
Public employers, but not private employers, are required to provide employees with personal leave. State employees may accrue personal leave to use for vacations or to deal with personal matters and must use personal leave for illnesses requiring the employee to be absent for one day or less. State employees may also donate a portion of their accrued personal leave to another employee suffering from, or who has a family member suffering from, a catastrophic illness or injury. See +Miss. Code Ann. § 25-3-93. For more information, see Employee Leaves > Other Leaves: Mississippi.
Jury Duty Leave
In Mississippi, it is unlawful for any employer or other person to do the following:
- Persuade or attempt to persuade any juror to avoid jury service; or
- Intimidate or to threaten any juror in that respect.
For more information, see Employee Leaves > Jury Duty: Mississippi.
Termination of Employment
Mississippi does not have a statute governing payment of employees' final paychecks. Even so, employees who have difficulty receiving their paychecks do have recourse. Those employees may seek assistance from the US Department of Labor. As a matter of best practices, employers are encouraged to pay terminated employees all wages due and owing by or before the next regular payday.
Mississippi law does not require employers to include vacation pay in separated employees' final paychecks. Therefore, whether vacation pay is included will be governed by employers' written policies existing at the time of separation.
Health Care Continuation (Mini-COBRA Law)
Employees working for smaller employers (i.e., employers with less than 20 employees) are exempt from the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Mississippi's state continuation law, or its mini-COBRA law, applies to employers with less than 20 employees. The law allows eligible separated employees to elect to continue health care coverage for up to 12 months after the date their coverage would have otherwise ended due to a change in eligibility.
Many states have laws providing employers that provide truthful references with immunity from liability in private lawsuits (i.e., lawsuits where an employee or former employee claims defamation based on the provided reference). Mississippi does not have a job reference immunity statute.
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