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Although federal law guarantees many workers the right to take unpaid medical leave, workers currently have no federal right to paid leave. This means that many workers cannot afford to take leave to recover from an illness or seek medical care for themselves or their dependents. The lack of paid leave also poses significant costs for communities by discouraging the use of preventative care, spreading disease, decreasing employee performance, and increasing employee turnover. While some state and local governments around the country have tried to address these problems by passing laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave, Mississippi law does not require that employers provide any leave beyond the federal baseline. In fact, in early 2013, the Mississippi legislature passed a bill that prohibits local governments from passing employment ordinances that might create a paid leave program or requirement. Although this bill does not prevent the passage of statewide paid leave legislation, it increases the challenges that paid leave advocates face in Mississippi in expanding workers’ access to paid leave on either the state or local level. However, there are still avenues for advocacy and policy change at the state and local level.

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