I find that many employees and employers alike wonder what the state laws mandate as far as lunches and breaks are concerned. You might find it interesting to know that Texas is a state where employers are not required to give any lunch breaks or other breaks to employees
While there isn’t a state law on the books about lunches and breaks, there are applicable federal laws for Texans. Many people believe that they are entitled to a meal or break under federal law, but this is not the case. The federal law does offer instructions for employers as to whether or not an employee should be paid during these times if any meals or breaks are offered.
Short rest breaks (often 20 minutes or less) must not be deducted from an employee’s daily pay. Lunch breaks or other true meal periods are usually 30 minutes or more, and do not need to be counted or paid as work time. Employees must stop work entirely during this meal break in order for it not to be paid. If the employee is still required to do any work duties (even something as minor as answering a phone), it must instead be a paid meal break.
Federal law also contains other regulations of interest related to employee pay during times of waiting, sleeping and traveling. With the issue of sleeping time, an employee who is scheduled to be on duty for less than 24 hours is considered to be “working” even if he or she is permitted to sleep during some of that time. If an employee is working more than 24 hours, a sleeping period of up to eight hours may be deducted from his or her pay. However, this can only be done if sleeping facilities is provided and at least five hours of uninterrupted sleep may be achieved by the employee.
Many of us spend a lot of time each day in the car or traveling in some form of public transportation. Can any of this be paid as work time? The general rule is that time spent in the normal day’s travel to and from work is not considered paid working time. However, if an employee is traveling in the course of a day’s work, it must be counted as paid work hours.
A final issue I’ll cover in this blog entry is waiting time. In some situations waiting time should be paid, but not in all circumstances. If an employee is allowed to pursue personal interests while waiting for another task to be finished or while waiting at the workplace for his or her services to be called upon, it is generally counted as work time. However, if an employee is waiting to be called upon from home or elsewhere, but has great freedom to do what he or she wishes while on call (and has plenty of time to respond to the call), it is not generally considered paid work time.
A thorough listing helpful information on the laws related to lunches, breaks and other pertinent labor issues can be found on the Texas Complete Labor Law Poster.