In the latest Mississippi Legislative Session, several new laws have been signed and/or voted into effect that will likely impact employers throughout the state. The changing employment laws have recent developments that could involve public as well as private employers.
Mississippi Premium Pay Act
The state legislature passed a law called the Mississippi Premium Pay Act that allows for “hazard pay” during COVID. If any municipality or county paid their law enforcement or fire officials “hazard pay,” meaning the employees received an increase in pay for their work during the pandemic, then there is money available for public employers to get reimbursed for those payments.
If employers did not pay hazard pay, there is still ability for every certified law enforcement or fire official to get a $1,000 payment for their work during the ongoing pandemic.
This allotment of funds was part of the money that they state received from the federal government and is earmarked for certified fire and police personnel.
Mississippi Equal Pay for Equal Work Act
This new law requires employers to pay the same wages to women as men under similar working conditions doing substantially equal work requiring the same skills, education, effort and responsibility.
This Act tracks Federal Law in that pay decisions may be made on the following factors: seniority, merit, earnings by quality of protection and for “any other factor than sex.”
Unlawful violations in equal pay have been protected at the Federal level for a long time – however, if an employer engages in unlawful pay disparities in the workplace in the state of Mississippi, they now have violated federal law and state law for the first time.
Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act
The latest Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act that was signed by Gov. Reeves in February 2022 was written in a way to provide several protections for employers. Mississippi is an at-will state and, under the new law, employers are not required to permit, accommodate or allow the medical use of cannabis or modify a job for anyone solely because that person engages in the medical use of cannabis.
This means that the Act does not prohibit any employer from refusing to hire, discharging, disciplining, or otherwise taking an adverse employment action against an individual because of that individual’s use of medical cannabis. In other words, medical marijuana is not a protected category. However, employers should be aware that while they don’t have to make accommodations based on an employee’s use of medical marijuana, they may have to accommodate any underlying disability of the employee for which he/she uses medical marijuana.
Read more on the details of this new law and considerations for employers here.