Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Mississippi?

April 6th 2024

Comprehending your rights as an hourly employee extends well beyond mere legal conformity. These rights play a critical role in propelling your professional growth and bolstering your confidence as you navigate your career path.

The income you earn as you clock in and out daily largely impacts your professional standing in the workforce. Given the differences in employment laws across U.S. states, you may understandably have questions about how your particular employment rights align with the regulations of your state.

This is exactly why we have meticulously composed this article to address your questions regarding various aspects of employment. We aim to equip you with the essential knowledge required to secure your legal rights throughout your employment.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Mississippi
Wage and Hour Regulations in Mississippi
Rest Laws in Mississippi
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Mississippi
Termination of Employment in Mississippi

Defining an Hourly Employee in Mississippi

What is Hourly Employment in Mississippi?

An hourly employee in Mississippi is characterized as an individual whose compensation is determined by the number of hours they work during a particular pay period. This method of pay often leads to fluctuations in their income between consecutive paychecks.

Intending to assure that hourly employees receive accurate compensation for their work hours, employers commonly use time tracking software to monitor their billable work hours. In contrast, salaried employees receive a predetermined annual salary, irrespective of the actual number of hours they put in.

Furthermore, while hourly employees may be eligible for overtime pay, they may also have access to lesser employment benefits, such as health insurance or retirement plans, in contrast to their salaried counterparts.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Compensation They are remunerated per hour.  They are remunerated on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 
Overtime Pay Eligible under federal law to be compensated 1.5 times their hourly wage for working overtime. May not be eligible under federal law to be compensated 1.5 times their hourly wage for working overtime.
Minimum Wage Eligible to earn the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25. May not be eligible to earn the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25.
Employment Benefits Fewer job privileges (such as health benefits and retirement plans). More job privileges (such as health benefits and retirement plans).
Rest and Meal Breaks No rest and meal breaks are provided by law. No rest and meal breaks are provided by law.
Compensation Stability Compensation hinges on the actual hours worked providing an unstable and fluctuating supply of income. Compensation does not hinge on the actual hours worked providing a fixed supply of income.

To learn more about Mississippi labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding your rights as a salaried employee in Mississippi and discovering how to run payroll in Mississippi.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Mississippi

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Mississippi?

It is important to recognize that the laws established at federal and state standards do not dictate the maximum number of hours an employee must work in a given week. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) forces employers to grant additional compensation to employees for any hours worked over 40 hours in a week, at a fixed rate of 1.5 times their standard hourly wage. Based on this knowledge, it can be deduced that a typical work week usually consists of 40 hours.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

Minimum wage is specified as the least amount of money an individual can earn for every hour of work performed. Historically, the primary purpose behind the United States’ implementation of the minimum wage is to ensure that employees in the labor force are protected in terms of health and well-being and are able to afford the minimum standard of living, as the lowest-paid workers in America’s working population. This has led to the federal minimum wage being implemented by the Fair Labor Standards Act whereby the lowest amount an employee can be paid for their work is $7.25. No other U.S. state is allowed to implement a minimum wage that is lower than this floor. 

While federal wage laws are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act, individual states retain the discretion to establish their minimum wage rates that exceed the federal minimum. Mississippi is one of the states that complies with the minimum wage rules set forth by federal law.

Due to the absence of state-specific laws regulating minimum wage in Mississippi, the state’s minimum wage follows the minimum wage set by federal law, that being $7.25. Hence, adhering to the federal minimum wage laws, an hourly worker typically receives a minimum of $290 for a regular 40-hour workweek.

Do All Employees Earn the Minimum Wage in Mississippi?

Since Mississippi does not have its minimum wage laws, it is subject to the minimum wage laws stipulated by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Notably, the federal minimum wage laws exclude particular groups of employees from earning both the federal minimum wage and overtime pay in Mississippi. These exempt employees comprise the following:

  • Tipped Employees.
  • Full-time students.
  • Employees below the age of 20 years.
  • White-collar employees (i.e. bona fide executives, administrative workers, and professionals).
  • Outside salesmen.
  • Computer professional employees.
  • Employees who babysit on a casual basis.
  • Disabled workers.
  • Fishermen.
  • Newspaper delivery employees.
  • Switchboard operators.
  • Seamen employed on non-American vessels.
  • Farmers.
  • Employees of seasonal and recreational establishments are computer professionals.
  • Outside salespeople.
  • Administrative, executive, or professional employees.
  • Employees who are computer professionals.

How Many Hours Qualify As Overtime and What is the Associated Pay in Mississippi?

Mississippi complies with the overtime laws established by the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA). The federal overtime laws stipulate that any hours worked over 40 hours a week is regarded as ‘overtime’, for which employees must be paid at a rate of 150% of their regular hourly wage for each hour worked overtime. However, work performed on weekends and rest days is not required to be paid for, unless an employer requests an employee to work in exceptional circumstances on these days.

Do All Employees Earn Overtime Pay in Mississippi?

In addition to the employees who are exempt from earning the minimum wage and overtime pay as listed earlier, below comprises a list of employees who are only exempt from earning overtime pay in Mississippi according to the federal overtime rules.

  • Seamen on American vessels.
  • Sugar processing employees.
  • Taxi drivers.
  • Radio station employees of small markets.
  • Livestock Auction workers.
  • Employees who work in motion picture theatre.
  • Airline employees.
  • Aircraft salespeople.
  • Railroad employees.
  • Truck and trailer salespeople.
  • Police officers working in small (less than 5 officers) public police departments. 
  • Local delivery drivers and driver’s helpers.
  • Lumber operations employees of small (less than 9 employees) firms.
  • Houseparents in non-profit educational institutions.
  • Forestry employees of small (less than 9 employees) firms. 
  • Fruit & vegetable transportation employees.
  • Domestic employees who live in.
  • Farm implement salespeople. 
  • Country elevator workers (rural).
  • Boat salespeople.
  • Buyers of agricultural products.
  • Amusement/recreational employees in national parks/forests/Wildlife Refuge System.

Rest Laws in Mississippi

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

The state of Mississippi depends on the federal rules stipulated by the FLSA for compensating employees during these breaks, in the absence of particular state legislation. 

Under the federal rules, employers are not obligated by law to provide rest and meal breaks to employees. However, if they choose to extend such breaks, they are required to compensate employees for rest breaks lasting 20 minutes or less. Conversely, meal breaks lasting 30 minutes or more are not required to be compensated.

Mississippi’s breastfeeding break laws prohibit employers from restricting employees from expressing breast milk during any meal or other breaks granted by the employer. Employers must also provide access to a fridge for storing breast milk and a sanitary area with an electrical outlet, comfortable seating, and nearby access to running water (which is not located within a toilet stall) for employees to breastfeed their children or express milk.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

In the United States, it is customary for employees to receive time off for personal, medical, or family-related purposes. However, certain categories of leave are subject to regulation under state or federal laws, ensuring that eligible employees meeting specific requirements are qualified for these periods of absence.

In Mississippi, employees have the legal right to utilize several types of leave as mandated by both state and federal laws. The list below outlines the number of types of leaves available in which you, as an hourly employee in Mississippi, acquire the legal right to use.

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993: The federal provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) stipulate that qualified employees are legally entitled to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-secured leave annually for particular family or serious health-related matters. To qualify for this leave, employees must fulfill the following requirements:
    1. They must have been hired by the same employer for a minimum of 12 months before utilizing their leave.
    2. They need to have worked for 1,250 hours at a minimum within the 12-month period while employed by the same employer.
    3. They must work for an employer with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
  • Jury duty leaves: While employees in Mississippi are not required to be paid for the time they have taken to respond to a jury summons, they cannot be punished in any aspect of their employment by their employers for fulfilling their jury duty obligations
  • Crime victim leave: The crime victim laws in Mississippi protect the rights of employees who are crime victims by mandating that employers grant them a leave of absence to respond to a subpoena and prepare for a criminal trial. Furthermore, the law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions against employees who utilize their crime victim leaves.
  • Military leave: In Mississippi, military member employees are protected by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which grants them the right to take time off to serve in the military. They are also entitled to be reinstated to their previous job role with the same leave benefits, such as sick leave, vacation leave, and annual leave, that they would have accrued had they not taken military leave. Additionally, the law safeguards them from being terminated without cause for a year after utilizing their military leave.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Mississippi

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

Your employer may deduct a portion of your wages for various reasons, including taxes, garnishments, and benefits like health insurance. However, in light of the complexities of payroll deductions and the possibility of unauthorized wage withholdings, both federal and state laws have been enacted to defend your earnings from improper deductions.

Remarkably, in the state of Mississippi, there are no particular laws that restrict an employer’s discretion in the type of deductions that they can make from an employee’s earnings or whether written consent from an employee must be sought before making such deductions. Since the laws surrounding wage deductions remain scant, your employer may likely deduct any of the following items from your paycheck:

  • cash shortages
  • breakage, damage, or loss of the employer’s property
  • required uniforms
  • required tools
  • other items necessary for employment

Furthermore, in adherence to the provisions of federal law, the above items cannot be deducted from an employee’s paycheck if it would result in the employee earning less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for the specific pay period in which the deductions were made.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Mississippi State Law?

As an hourly employee, it is imperative to remain aware of your employment rights and compensation benefits throughout your tenure. Below is a list of the diverse employment benefits available to you in Mississippi:

  • Minimum wage: Mississippi-based employees acquire the legal right under state law to earn the state’s minimum hourly pay of $7.25.
  • Overtime: The federal overtime laws require employers to compensate non-exempt employees at a rate of 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for any hours worked beyond 40 hours per week.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: According to the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Act, employers with five or more employees must cover the medical expenses incurred by employees who have sustained occupational injuries and/or diseases arising out of and in the course of their employment. Furthermore, employees may qualify to receive various kinds of benefits under the Act. 
  • Unemployment insurance benefits: Unemployment insurance benefits offer financial assistance to individuals who have become jobless through circumstances that are out of their control. These benefits are designed to help compensate for the loss of wages as unemployed individuals find suitable employment or await to be recalled by their employers. Notably, no portion of wages is deducted from an employee’s paycheck to fund this coverage.
  • Extended health insurance benefits: COBRA is a federal law enabling numerous workers to maintain their healthcare benefits post-employment. Given that federal COBRA applies only to employers with a workforce of 20 or more employees, several states have enacted their versions, commonly termed “mini-COBRAs.” Mississippi’s mini-COBRA extends coverage for up to 12 months and requires each certification of coverage to include a notice about the right to maintain coverage.

What are the Provided Hourly Employee Protections Under Mississippi State Law?

Federal and state legislatures have enacted an array of laws aimed at protecting employees from a variety of workplace injustices, including issues related to health and safety, discrimination, whistleblower protection, and more. Below, we highlight the key laws that offer legal safeguards for your rights and well-being during your tenure.

  • Military protection laws: State military laws protect employees from discrimination against their employers based on their current or former membership in the military. Furthermore, military member employees who remain qualified to perform the work of their previously held position must be reinstated to their previous position at the same status, pay, and seniority.
  • Child labor protection laws: The laws in Mississippi protect minors in several facets of employment by imposing constraints on the types of jobs they can engage in and the number of hours they can work each day depending on when school may be in session. For instance, minors cannot work in any occupations that are deemed as dangerous or threatening to their life, health, morals, or welfare. Furthermore, minors below the age of 16 are not permitted to work for more than 18 hours a week when school is in session, more than 3 hours a day when school is in session, or before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
  • Right-to-work protection laws: Mississippi is recognized as a ‘right-to-work’ state which means that employees cannot face adverse employment actions by their employers for their membership or non-membership in any labor union or organization. Moreover, employers are prohibited from denying or interfering with an employee’s right to organize or bargain collectively, by and through a labor organization. 
  • Anti-discrimination protection laws: According to federal law, it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees based on their protected characteristics which comprise their:  Race, Color, Age, Sex, Sexual orientation, Gender, Gender identity, Religion, National origin, Pregnancy, Genetic information, including family medical history, Physical or mental disability, Child or spousal support withholding, Military or veteran status, Citizenship and/or immigration status.

Termination of Employment in Mississippi

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

In Mississippi, as in many other U.S. states, the at-will employment principle is followed. This legal concept allows both employers and employees the freedom to terminate the employment relationship with or without cause and at any time. While these laws generally apply, both federal and state laws have specific exceptions that limit the broad application of this doctrine and define what actions constitute wrongful termination. These exceptions include the following:

  • Breach of contract: A company’s policies and procedures whose provisions specify the conditions for an employee’s termination are to be regarded as an implied contract. The same applies to the terms that outline the procedure for terminating an employee in a collective bargaining agreement. In such instances, the employer’s capacity to freely terminate an employee is restricted and instead, they must adhere to the stipulations of the employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, and company policies to prevent any proceedings for breach of contract being instituted against them. 
  • Public policy: The Supreme Court of Mississippi disallows employers from terminating employees who report activities that contravene public policy requirements and reject the participation of unlawful practices as a condition of employment. If an employer terminates an employee for these reasons, this shall amount to wrongful termination and the employee has the legal right to bring proceedings against the employer for compensatory damages.
  • Retaliation: Employees are protected under federal law from being terminated by their employers for asserting their legal rights in the workplace, such as filing a claim for worker’s compensation or engaging in whistleblowing practices (which includes reporting illegal activities like violations of wage and hour laws or safety requirements). In this aspect, the federal Whistleblower Protection Act and the Mississippi public policy exception take effect in its applicability.
  • Discrimination: The federal anti-discrimination laws establish the criteria for protected characteristics, specify the range of companies affected by these regulations, and establish government agencies responsible for receiving and addressing complaints regarding violations and enforcing these laws.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employer actions like termination based on discriminatory reasons. Employees cannot be terminated due to their protected characteristics, which include factors like national origin, race, color, religion, or sex. Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act prevents discrimination based on mental and physical disabilities. It’s important to recognize that these laws do not apply to businesses with less than 15 employees, and employers with less than 20 employees are forbidden from engaging in age discrimination against employees aged 40 or older.

Furthermore, there are no specific laws in Mississippi regulating when the final paycheck of a departing employee must be issued. In light of this absence, it is best practice for an employer to pay the final wages of a departing employee by the next regularly scheduled payday.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Mississippi?

Severance pay is a financial package given by employers to departing employees, designed to provide financial support during their job transitions as they explore new employment opportunities. The specific amount is typically determined based on the employee’s length of service with the company, often equating to one week’s worth of income for every year of service.

While severance pay is a valuable employee benefit, neither federal nor Mississippi laws mandate its provision. Instead, it hinges on mutual agreement between the employer and the employee. Hence, if the employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement explicitly requires severance pay, the employer is mandated to make such payments to avoid potential breach of contract claims.

Final Thoughts

In summary, it’s apparent why having a strong understanding of your rights as an hourly employee is paramount. Being knowledgeable about termination rules, wage payments, leave policies, job benefits, and safety measures not only prepares you to safeguard yourself in case of workplace violations but also puts you at a better advantage.

Given that employment laws are constantly developing, staying informed about the latest legal advancements in the employment sector is equally important. This knowledge is imperative for making informed decisions throughout your career.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.