It’s important to stay up to date on all of the employment laws in your state so that you can maintain compliance in your business. We did some of the hard work for you and put some of the most important Texas laws and statutes in one place so you can either learn them for the first time or give yourself a refresher.
However, remember that our summary is not qualified legal advice, laws are always subject to change, and they can vary from municipality to municipality.
It’s up to you to make sure you’re compliant with all laws and statutes in your area. Consult with a qualified lawyer and/or your local government agencies if you have questions or concerns.
Here are a few employment laws every Texas small business owner should know.
First, here are a few helpful links and resources for you to bookmark and refer back to:
- Texas Workforce Commission
- Texas Employment Law: Discrimination, Wages, & Child Labor
- Texas Workplace Posters
- Sick Days: No statute, but employers in Texas may be required to provide an employee with unpaid sick leave under the federal employment laws stipulated in the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Vacation Days: Employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation benefits, but if the employer establishes a policy, it must comply with the terms.
- An employer can legally establish a policy denying payment for accrued vacation time if the employee doesn’t comply with specific requirements, such as giving a two-week notice of resignation.
- Jury Duty: An employer may not terminate an employee for responding to a jury summons. However, the employer does not have to pay the employee for the time spent.
- Holiday Leave: Texas law does not require employers of private businesses to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave.
- Voting Leave: Texas law requires employers to give employees paid time off to vote if they do not have two hours either before or after their scheduled work hours to vote.
- Bereavement Leave: No statute
- Emergency Evacuation: Employers may not discharge or take any other adverse employment action against an employee who leaves work, or does not report to work, in order to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order.
- Witness Leave: Employers must provide unpaid leave to employees to appear as a witness in a court proceeding or to attend a juvenile court proceeding when required as a parent or guardian. Employers cannot take any adverse action against an employee for appearing as a witness pursuant to a subpoena.
- Military Leave: Employers may not discharge an employee because they take military leave. After their service, the employee is entitled to return to their job without loss of vacation or other benefits.
- Employers have 6 days after an employee is discharged, terminated, or laid off to pay all wages due.
- If an employee resigns or leaves the position for any reason other than being discharged, the employer has until the next regularly scheduled payday to pay all wages due.
Tipped employees are required to be paid a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, which was adopted from the federal minimum tipped wage rate set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Texas Minimum Wage
The current minimum wage in Texas is the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 an hour.
Employers in Texas must pay their nonexempt employees at least semimonthly. However, they may pay their exempt employees monthly.
- Texas child labor laws prohibit youth under the age of 14 to be employed, except for the following exempt circumstances:
- The child is working under direct supervision of the child’s parent or legal guardian.
- The child is 11 years old or older and delivers newspapers.
- The child is 16 years old or older and directly sells newspapers to the public.
- The child is participating in a school-supervised work-study program approved by the Texas Workforce Commission.
- The child is working in agriculture during times when he or she is not required to be in school.
- The child is working on a rehabilitation program supervised by a county judge.
- The child’s parent or guardian has given permission for the child to work in a non-hazardous, casual place of employment.
- Youth 14 and 15 years of age may not be employed for more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours per workweek. They also may not be employed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on a school night, between midnight and 5 a.m. on any day that is not followed by a school day.
- A hardship waiver from the hour restrictions can be obtained with an application that includes a statement explaining why it is necessary for the child to work.
- Background Checks: Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.
- Credit and Investigative Checks: Texas does not expressly allow or prohibit employers from obtaining credit reports on applicants or employees.
- Arrest and Conviction Checks: Texas does not expressly allow or prohibit criminal history checks for employment purposes.
- Applicants may deny the existence of criminal records that have been expunged and employers who are made aware of expunged records may not consider them in the employment decision.
- Mandatory Background Checks: Employers are required to conduct background checks on the following types of employees or applicants:
- Personnel who provide home health or personal assistance services for an entity acting as a consumer’s fiscal agent
- Personnel who enter a person’s residence for an in-home service company
- School personnel who are not subject to a national background check, including those working for an open-enrollment charter school or shared services arrangement
- Personnel working for a childcare facility, child-placing agency, or a family home
- Personnel working for any of the following facilities:
- A nursing facility, custodial care home, or other institution licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services
- An assisted living facility licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services
- A licensed home and community support services agency
- A day activity and health services facility licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services
- A licensed intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disability
- An adult foster care provider that contracts with the Department of Aging and Disability Services
- A facility that provides mental health services and is operated by or contracts with the Department of State Health Services
- A local mental health authority
- A local intellectual and developmental disability authority
- A special care facility licensed by the Department of State Health Services
- A mental health service unit of a licensed hospital
- A prescribed pediatric extended care center licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services
Meal Breaks, Rest Periods, Overtime
- The federal overtime rule stipulates that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.
- Texas does not have its own laws regarding overtime pay, so federal overtime laws apply.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act always requires that non-exempt employees be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
- There are no laws requiring an employer to provide a meal or rest break to employees, so the federal law applies, which says if an employer does choose to provide a break (usually less than 20 minutes) it must be paid.
- A meal or lunch break that is 30 minutes or longer does not need to be paid if the employee is allowed to leave the premise and is relieved of all duties.
- Retail employers must allow employees who work more than 30 hours a week at least 24 consecutive hours off work in every seven-day period.
- In addition, they must grant an employee’s request for time off to attend worship services once a week, unless it would be an undue hardship on the business.
The State of Texas requires that employers post the following notices in a prominent location:
- Texas Payday Law
- Unemployment Compensation
- Workers’ Compensation
- Employer’s Notice of Ombudsman Program (employers participating in workers’ compensation)
- Notice Regarding Certain Work-Related Communicable Diseases and Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits (employers of paramedics, emergency medical services, correctional officers, law enforcement officers, and fire fighters)
- Child Labor (employers who employ minors)
- Federal law prohibits discrimination in employment or terms and conditions of employment based on the following:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- National origin
- Genetic information, including family medical history
- Physical or mental disability
- Child or spousal support withholding
- Military or veteran status
- Citizenship and/or immigration status
- Additionally, the state of Texas prohibits discrimination based on the following:
- Expunged criminal records
- Click here to read our blog on what acceptable and unacceptable questions to ask during an interview.
Texas is an “at-will employment” state, which means that without a written employee contract, employees can be terminated for any reason at any time, provided that the reason is not discriminatory.
Employers may not discharge or discriminate against an employee for reporting discrimination or workplace safety issues. Healthcare employees have additional protections.
- COBRA is a federal law that allows many employees to continue their health insurance benefits after their employment ends. Because federal COBRA only applies to employers that have 20 or more employees, many states have adopted their own versions of the law, which are known as “mini-COBRAs.”
- Texas’s mini-COBRA allows employees to continue their coverage for up to nine months. Employers must provide written notice to their employees of their right to continue coverage. We recommend that employers provide this notice as soon as a triggering event occurs.
Texas has no laws around shift scheduling, so the laws set forth in the Federal Labor Standards Act apply.
Biometric Data Collection
Employers are required to take the following steps if collecting biometric identifiers for any reason:
- Inform employees that biometric information will be collected.
- Obtain the employee’s consent to collect and use the information.
- Refrain from selling, trading, or in any way profiting from the information.
- Refrain from disclosing or disseminating the information unless the employee or their representative have given express permission, or disclosure of the information is required by law or subpoena.
- Destroy biometric identifiers and information within a reasonable time, or one year after termination of employment, whichever comes sooner. (If employers do not have a good reason to keep this data post-employment we recommend destroying it immediately.)
- Ensure that the use, transmission, and storage of the information is provided with at least the same level of security as other confidential and sensitive information, and not less than is required by a reasonable standard of care.
- Employers in Texas may not record their employees’ oral or electronic communications unless the employer is a party to the communication or has consent from at least one party to the communication.
- Employers must have a detailed policy regarding use of company computers and resources accessed with computers, such as e-mail, the internet, and the company intranet, if one exists. Each employee must sign the policy.
- Employers may not install any tracking device, such as GPS, in a motor vehicle unless the owner consents or the employer owns the vehicle and employees use it for their job.