Mississippi passes a Preemptive Sick Leave Law
Mississippi State currently does not have any mandatory sick leave laws on the books. In fact, in 2013, state legislatures passed a minimum wage and sick leave preemptive bill that protects employers from a diverse terrain of local employment laws. HB 141 is called “An Act to Prohibit a County, a Board of Supervisors of a County, Municipality or Governing Authority of a Municipality From Establishing a Mandatory, Minimum Wage Rate, Minimum Number of Vacation or Sick Days, That Would Regulate How a Private Employer Pays Its Employees; To Provide That the Legislature Finds These Prohibitions are Necessary to Ensure an Economic Climate Conducive to New Business Development and Job Growth in the State of Mississippi and for Related Purposes.”
Sick Leave Laws Sweep the Country
In other words, the Act stops local governments from enacting higher minimum wage ordinances and mandatory sick leave laws, a trend that has swept the United States. Currently 13 cities in New Jersey have their own sick leave laws with 7 cities in California with sick leave laws. Cook County Illinois passed a sick leave law last year. It followed a separate law in Chicago, inside Cook County, which has separate provisions. In the meantime over a dozen towns have opted out of the countywide law, leaving a checkerboard of minimum wage and sick leave requirements. Other states have faced similar situations with towns and counties passing laws that leave employers shouldering much larger administrative costs to avoid multiple sick leave and minimum wage requirements.
When an employer is based either in multiple locations, or has employees that perform work in more than 1 location, a smattering of sick leave and minimum wage laws leaves that employer keeping multiple records. The business has to track when and how often employees are in certain areas, track separate pay for separate areas, and manage various accrual rates for sick leave.
Employers have to spend time and money to investigate and understand the various laws, revise employment policies and educate management. All of this can take away from productivity because every additional requirement can create confusion for employees and management alike.
In addition to all of those administrative costs, most of the local ordinances are written with the assumed guilt and burden of proof on the employer and come with very costly fines and penalties. Although a business may be compliant with various employment regulations, if they are missing pieces of information or records, that business is often assumed guilty by law. Ironically, many of the local ordinances fail to specify exactly which pieces of information and records businesses must keep. This keeps owners and managers scrambling to maintain a “best guess” record keeping system to stay compliant. All of that additional cost is in addition to the cost of the actual benefits required by law.
Mississippi Preemptive Law Restricts Specific Employee Benefits Laws
The Mississippi legislature recognizes in HB 141 that “wages and employee benefits comprise the most significant expense of operating a business.” As a result lawmakers are concerned that businesses are likely to avoid areas with higher expenses and costs that would be “detrimental to the business environment of the state and its citizens.”
Specifically the preemptive law prevents two main types of employment laws. First, it prevents any minimum wage hikes on a local level. The state’s current minimum wage is set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour. Secondly, the law prevents any local mandatory vacation or sick leave laws. This includes both paid and unpaid sick leave laws. The new law ensures that across the State of Mississippi, employment benefit laws will remain consistent. However, it does not mean that the state won’t enact a higher minimum wage or sick leave law on the state level. Many other states such as Arizona and Oregon have passed preemptive sick leave laws and followed with statewide requirements. Meanwhile Indiana and Oklahoma, both of which have preemptive sick leave laws, are considering several statewide bills this year.
Employers in Mississippi Must Still Provide Some Sick Leave
Although Mississippi doesn’t have its own sick leave laws, the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) affects all Mississippi employers with 50 or more employees. FMLA provides unpaid, but protected time off for serious health conditions. In addition to the benefits provided by FMLA for employees to care for a family member or bond with a new child, employees can take time for their own medical care. That medical care includes protected time eoff if the employee is hospitalized overnight, has any type of chronic health condition such as asthma, needs diabetes or other illnesses. Employees can also take time for other chronic conditions that would result in more days off if left untreated such as for chemotherapy, dialysis, or physical therapy. Further, employees can take FMLA for any sickness that leaves them unable to work for at least 3 days or more.
In other words, FMLA provides employees with protected leave for sickness, illness, and injury that are above the minor sicknesses of the common cold or 24 hour flu.
Let SwipeClock Help
Although employers in Mississippi don’t need to currently worry about either local or statewide sick leave and minimum wage laws, these businesses still have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act and any other national laws that are enacted.
Further, research has found that employers who maintain automated records and timekeeping systems save themselves money on buddy punching, manipulated or lost records and other common issues.
SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.
Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.
Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on May 31, 2017