Workers in Texas are protected by both state and federal labor and employment laws. The federal government sets the minimum wage law as well as national laws regarding unpaid family and medical leave. States are allowed to offer more generous laws regarding wages and leave, but cannot override the federal laws. In Texas, state wage and labor laws are administered by the Texas Workforce Commission.
Texas Payday Law
With the exception of public employers, all businesses in Texas must follow the provisions of the Texas Payday Law. Under this law, all people who perform work for a company are employees, except those who are specifically independent contractors or close relatives. Wages must be given to employees during regular working hours or by registered mail no later than the worker’s usual payday. The payday law also states that employees who are exempt from overtime according to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) may be paid once a month, while all others must be paid at least twice a month.
Texas follows the federal minimum wage, which in 2010 was $7.25 per hour. The laws do allow that a sub-minimum wage can be applied in cases where the worker has “wage or productive impairments,” as well as clients or patients from the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. People under the age of 20 are allowed to be paid a training wage of $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days of employment.
Texas law does not require employers to offer vacation days, holiday pay, or break periods. These benefits are left up to the companies to decide. However, if they do offer them, they must follow their own policies. Texas follows the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Labor in stating that a break must be a time when a worker is relieved of all duties, and that a lunch break must be 30 minutes or longer and provided for the purpose of eating a meal. Also, if a break is given that is less than 20 minutes, it must count as working hours and be paid.
Texas follows the FLSA provisions regarding overtime. This federal law mandates that employees must be paid overtime for working more than 40 hours a week if they are employed in one of the following businesses: one that handles goods for interstate commerce; one that has annual sales of more than $500,000; and all schools, government agencies, hospitals and nursing homes. This overtime pay must be at least one and one-half times the employee’s usual wages. Tipped employees must receive at least $2.12 per hour directly from employers as well as tips. If they do not make the minimum wage from this pay plus tips, employers must make up the difference.
Children under 14 cannot work in Texas, except as newspaper carriers or as performers in theater, radio, or television productions. Children 14 or 15 cannot work during school hours, more than 48 hours in one week, or more than eight hours in one day. Children 16 or 17 have no rules restricting the number of their hours or time of day when they can work. Texas does have a hardship exemption for child workers. If the Workforce Commission determines a hardship exists that makes it necessary for the minor to work, hour restrictions may be waived.