The Texas employment
The Texas labor laws every business owner should know
Wages and breaks
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.
The federal overtime laws stipulate that the minimum salary requirement for administrative, professional, and executive exemptions is $684 per week, or $35,568 per year.
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 have more than 30 hours worked in a week at least 24 consecutive hours off work in every seven-day period, according to the Texas Department of Labor.
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.
Final paychecks in Texas
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.
Texas child labor laws
Minors under the age of 14
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 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.
Minors 14 and 15 years of age
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.
Texas does not require employers to provide sick leave.
Employers in Texas may be required to provide an employee with leave under the federal employment laws stipulated in the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Texas does not require employers to provide bereavement leave.
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.
Texas law does not require employers of private businesses to provide paid or unpaid holiday leave.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hiring and firing
Federal law makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of: 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.
Additionally, the state of Texas Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits discrimination based on 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.
Regarding employment and payroll data, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and others, you must:
For at least 3 years: keep payroll records, certificates, agreements, notices, collective bargaining agreements, employment contracts, and sales and purchase records. Also keep completed copies of each employee’s I-9 for three years after they are hired. If the employee works longer than three years, hold on to the form for at least one year after the employee leaves.
For at least 2 years: Keep basic employment and earning records like timecards, wage-rate tables, shipping and billing records, and records of additions to or deductions from wages. Also keep the records that show why you may pay different wages to employees of different sexes, such as wage rates, job evaluations, seniority and merit systems, and collective bargaining agreements.
For at least 1 year: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says employers should keep all employment records for at least one year from the employee’s date of termination.
Other record-keeping laws that may apply to you:
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you need to keep records of job-related injuries and illnesses for five years. But some records, like those covering toxic substance exposure, have to be kept for 30 years.
You must keep files of benefit plans and seniority and merit systems while they are in effect and for at least a year after they end. You must also retain summary descriptions and annual reports of benefits plans for six years.
If your company is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, you must also retain relevant records of leaves, notices, policies, and more for three years.
Additional laws that may apply to you.
Employers in Texas must pay their nonexempt employees at least semimonthly. However, they may pay their exempt employees monthly under the Texas Payday Law.
Employers who run background checks should ensure they’re following the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which are available here.
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.
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.
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.
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This 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. If you need more compliance help, we recommend consulting with a qualified lawyer, checking with your local government agencies, or signing up for Homebase to get help from our certified HR Pros.