Many employers provide vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or personal time off (PTO). In addition to these policies, which are discretionary in Mississippi, you might also have the right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and Mississippi laws. For example, if you are caring for a seriously ill family member or recovering from childbirth, you might be legally entitled to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although Mississippi does not have its own family and medical leave law, it does require employers to give employees time off for military service and jury duty.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously ill family member (a spouse, parent, or child only), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, to bond with a new child, or to handle certain practical matters arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury during military service. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a broader set of family members, including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with 50 or more employees. Employees must have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave to be eligible for FMLA leave. (Find out more at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
While some states have their own family and medical leave laws, Mississippi is not one of them.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. These employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service. USERRA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their military service. (Learn more about USERRA in Taking Military Leave.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military (such as the militia) or are called to state active duty. In Mississippi, employees who are veterans or members of the U.S. armed forces reserves may take time off work for federal or state military duty or training. These employees must be reinstated to their former jobs upon their return. Employees and applicants are also protected from discrimination based on their current or former membership in the military, and employers are prohibited from threatening employees to deter them from enlisting in the military.
Mississippi law also requires employers to provide employees with time off for jury service. Employers may not intimidate or threaten employees to dissuade them from serving on a jury. And, employers may not require employees to use vacation or sick leave for this purpose.
Time off to serve on a jury is unpaid. Under federal law, however, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. (For more information, see our article on pay docking.)