State Lunch and Break Law Governing Texas

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.

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92 Thoughts on “State Lunch and Break Law Governing Texas”

Mertice Weeks

December 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

I am retiring after 36 years on 1 job. My employer says I will not be paid for my 30 days of accumulated sick leave. Is this right?

Amelia

December 30, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Hi Mertice! Unfortunately, what is legal and what is right are often two different things. There is no state where employers are required to pay wokrers for unused sick time at termination. Very, very few employers do so unless they are forced to by a union contract. Sorry, wish we had better news for you. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Karen

January 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I understand you do not get lunch or breaks under Texas law, and that employers can require you to take a break or be fired. I have a supervisor tell me I am breaking the law if I do not take a 30 minute lunch break when I work 6 or more hours. Also we have down time where there is nothing to do and we are asked to clock out usually for an hour or so and wait in the breakroom for a scheduled download. We should be paid for this, or sent home, correct.

Amelia

January 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

Hi Karen! You are somewhat correct. Texas has no break law, nor is there any federal law that requires meal breaks in most industries. So when the supervisor says that if you do not take a meal break on a 6 hour shift you are breaking the law, that information is incorrect. It may be a violation of company policy, but it is not a violation of Texas or federal law. Nevertheless, what he really means is if you do not take the break, you can be terminated.

(Not that it matters, but in states that require a meal break by law, if the employee refuses to take the break, it is the employer who is breaking the law. But we will add, that an employee does not win this type of argument with the supervisor. Regardless of the facts, confronting the supervisor on this matter is a bad idea.)

You are generally correct about the waiting time. Under the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act (and Texas minimum wage law) time spent waiting for work on the employer’s premises must be paid work time. However, the employer could require that you clock out for your 30-minute meal break at this time — employers are permitted to schedule breaks around work flow, at the employer’s convenience. The employer could even require that you clock out for a 60-minute meal break on that day, and that you do so at the time that is convenient for the employer. But once that period is up, you should clock back in and be paid — even if you have no work duties to complete until the download is finished.

If you have already taken your meal break for the day before the download begins, you cannot be required to clock out and wait for it to finish. Any waiting time on the employer’s premises must be paid. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Scott

January 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I am a non-exempt employee working in Texas. I was sent to training all week. I traveled on Sunday, which is usually my day off and returned very late on Friday (11:00 pm). My hours are usually 7:30-4:00 pm M-F. Should my employer pay me for the hours on Sunday and the the late hours on Friday?

Amelia

January 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Hi Scott! The travel time regulations of the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act are complex. Basically, when you travel you must be paid for all the time that you work. If you work more than 40 hours in the payroll week, you must be paid overtime. However, not all time spent traveling is counted as work time.

Under the FLSA, you must be paid for travel that occurs during your normal work hours of 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, even on Saturday and Sunday (which are not your normal work days.) This also includes waiting time, such as time spent at an airport waiting for a plane. So if you took a taxi to the airport at 10 am on Sunday, and arrived at the hotel at 2 pm, you “worked” for 4 hours.

However, under the law you need not be paid for some travel that occurs outside of your normal work hours. This would include being a passenger in a plane, taxi, car, etc. In the example above, if that trip occurred from 5 pm to 9 pm on any day of the week, it is not work time and you are not entitled to payment for it. (Many people see this as unfair, and a loophole in the law.)

Time spent actively driving (or flying a plane, for that matter) is work time. So if you drove for 4 hours to arrive at your destination, that is work time and you must be paid for it, whether the trip began at 10 am or 5 pm. (Do you see what we mean when we say that the regulations on travel time are complex?) Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Labor has an online tool to help sort out what travel time counts as hours worked. See the link below. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Use the eLaws Advisor for hours worked here, to be sure you are being paid all the wages due:
http://www.dol.gov/ELAWS/

Jean

February 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Message I am interested to know what the laws are for a person that is being taken from a paid salary to a commission basis. If the boss requires you to be in the office what work are you required to do? the same as you did when you were paid bi-monthly? I work for a interior design company and need to know what to expect. I love the job but worry now that the job is to be commission only.

Amelia

February 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hi Jean! If you have concerns about the commission-only structure, you may want to quit rather than accept it.

There are no state or federal laws regarding what duties a commissioned salesperson can be expected to perform. The best practice in most industries is for a salesperson who is working on straight commission to use his or her time on sales and sales-related activities (like completing sales reports.) However, there is no law that specifically requires this.

You could use this opportunity to renegotiate your job duties with your boss, by pointing out that if you are 100% commission, it is really not fair to ask you to perform non-sales-related duties like general paperwork, sweeping the floor or whatever. You may also want to try to negotiate a more flexible work schedule.

Under federal law, a commissioned salesperson must still be paid at least the minimum wage for all time worked. Generally, a salesperson who is paid solely on commission is not eligible for overtime.

When an employee quits rather than accept a significant change in working conditions, the employee usually qualifies for unemployment benefits. A switch from salary to straight commission is a significant change. However, if you work one day under the new arrangement, then you have accepted the new working terms. If you quit after that point, you would not be eligible for unemployment benefits. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Read more about this at: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/topics/wages-commissions.htm and http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/commissions.htm

nirali

February 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Message

I am working with a company since last 1.5 yrs. my company havenot paid me what they told to pay me since last 8 monhts. And they told that i will pay all the remaining money later on. he only paid me 50% checks. now because of some reason they gave me lay off before a week. and they are not ready to pay my wages which they told to pay before. Now what to do?how to take my right…

The texas work force only can handle case for 6 months back.. but my pay is before 1 year..so what to do..and what is the proof i need to have to get my money back..

please give me advice. and give me good lawer contact number.

plz

Thanks

Amelia

February 7, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Hi nirali! It sounds like for the last 8 months, your employer has paid you only 50% of the wages that you were promised. This is illegal. You are correct that the Texas workforce commission can investigate only wages for the past 6 months. However, that is better than nothing. You should file a complaint with them.

If the amount the employer was paying you for the past 8 months was more than the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour worked, it is going to be difficult for you to prove that the employer owes you more. The employer will likely argue that 6 months ago he reduced your wages, and that by continuing to work for the lower wages you accepted them.

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend an attorney by name. But you should be able to find an attorney specializing in employment law in your phone book. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

February 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Great posts! Here’s a delicate one for you, from an employer. I understand that Texas law does not mandate breaks, but Federal law requires employers to pay employees for breaks shorter than 20 minutes.

We have an employee we’ll call Regular. Regular works on a crew of two. Each morning the crews get ready, and leave to perform billable work away from the office. (Crews are paid for both billable and non-billable time.) Each morning Regular does his “business” for a predictable 15 minutes. Meanwhile, his crew partner waits, so they can leave for the job together.

Regular is a very good employee.

We are in complete support of Regular taking care of his needs. However, there’s a strong possibility that he’s also reading on this morning break. More importantly, he’s frustrating his crew mate by making him wait. We estimate we spend over $2000 in non-billable pay to Regular and his crew mate each year, just on this bathroom break. (This has been going on for a long time.)

Finally, my question: if Regular is not ready to go with the crew, may they leave without him, requiring him to take his own vehicle to the job site? And may we refuse to pay his mileage, since he is making this choice on a daily basis? (We reimburse mileage when the company needs for them to use their own vehicle.)

Also: Is it legal to say “Hey, if you’re reading in there, we need you to do that on your lunch break,” or “It’s OK to choose to take care of personal business at work, but this choice may cause you to miss your ride to the job site?”

Thanks you very much for your help on this delicate but frustrating topic.

Amelia

February 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Hi Lynn! Okay, just to clarify, using the toilet is not personal business. Personal business is when an employee uses company (paid) time to pay bills, make doctor’s appointments, renew their driver’s license, etc. We appreciate your southern modesty, but it’s okay to call it going to the bathroom, or using the toilet.

OSHA worker health and safety standards require that employees be permitted to use the toilet when nature calls. So no, you cannot tell your employee “It’s okay to choose to take care of personal business at work, but…” Most people don’t have the option of timing their bowel movements around their work schedule. (This is a little like demanding that female employees have their monthly periods only on their days off so they don’t spend too much time in the bathroom.)

Different people have different bowel habits. Some people are very, well, regular, and find they urgently need to use the toilet at the same time every day. This is not a premeditated attack on the employer. Others are not so predictable in their bathroom visits. The amount of time the employee needs to use the toilet also varies a great deal. (For some reason, men seem to need more time in the bathroom as they get older. We refuse to speculate about this.) The number of times per day that employees use the toilet also varies.

The assumptions you seem to be making are that a) this employee does not genuinely require all this time to use the toilet and b) that he could choose to use the toilet at a different time, if necessary. Those assumptions are not necessarily valid. In fact, there is no evidence at all to back them up. (It may be that he is reading because his bowel movements take a long time, rather than he is reading just to waste time.)

It sounds like this situation is very frustrating to you and the other managers — to the point that you have calculated how much money this bathroom break costs the company on an annual basis! However, probably every employee in the company takes at least one bathroom break per day. Other employees may be spending a comparable amount of time in the toilet spread over the course of a day, rather than in one longer visit. So in reality, this employee is not costing you any more than other employees.

Our suggestion is that you focus your attention on the problem — the crews not leaving on time. A male manager should have a frank discussion with this crew, or even all the crews, that they need to leave on time each morning. He should also mention that while it’s okay to use the toilet, reading, talking on the phone, etc while in the bathroom are not acceptable. If the problem continues, the male manager can have a private conversation with the employee “Hey Regular, I noticed you always seem to be in the bathroom when it’s time to leave, what’s up with that?” If the employee is able to change his bathroom habits, he probably will at that point.

You can enforce this “no reading in the bathroom” policy if you like. You need not allow employees to take books, newspapers, magazines, or bags containing them into the toilet. However, there is a good chance that even if the employee stops reading, his bathroom visits will take just as long. (You do not say how long the drive to the jobsite is, but it is possible that if you make this employee skip his bathroom visit, he will have an accident on the way. Won’t you be proud of yourself then?)

If the problem still continues, yes, you would probably be within your rights to send the other crew member on his way and let Regular make his own arrangements for transportation to the job site. There is no OSHA requirement that co-workers must stop working while an employee uses the toilet. However, be aware that you may be required to make reasonable accommodations under ADA if these extended bathroom breaks are due to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or another disability.

Overall, it may make more sense for you to ignore the problem. Instead of thinking, “There goes Regular and his crew, 15 minutes late again” think “Well thank goodness he got that out of the way! Now he can be productive all day long, and focus on work uninterrupted.” You say that Regular is an excellent employee, so maybe it would be better to focus on his good qualities, rather than his one flaw. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

March 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Can an out of country company that just bought the majority shares of a company in Texas demand that the employees lose weight or they will be fired?

Amelia

March 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Hi Carla! Unfortunately, yes, this would most likely be legal. The employees could certainly hire a lawyer to file a wrongful termination suit, and they would probably qualify for unemployment, but this might very well be legal. There is no Texas or federal law that protects an employee’s right to be overweight. (A few states have laws against firing someone for body size — Texas does not.)

Firing overweight people is not illegal discrimination. However, if this policy has a disparate impact on a protected group, then it might be illegal. Suppose that almost all of the African American or Caucasian employees were in the group fired, while none of the Asian employee were. This would most likely be discrimination based on race or national ancestry, which are illegal under federal law.

We applaud employers who offer incentives for employees to be healthy. Sometimes there is a valid business need for a certain level of physical fitness, as with firefighters. But this policy seems to take things too far. Nevertheless, it is legal at this point. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

R. Walker

April 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

Message
I have many friends in areas of the world well known for sweatshops. As most of us think of sweatshops, we are appalled just by the sound of the phrase. We fight to close these places down. But here, right here in our homes we are working in these sweatshops. This is horrific. I am not from Texas. I moved here 3 years ago. I had a decent job (for Texas) and was disgusted by the treatment given there. Now that the economy is so bad, that job is gone. I am now working in a creepy call center that, in my opinion, participates in some very unethical practices. At the end of the day i feel horrible. After speaking with friends overseas that have American inspectors visit regularly to mantain decent working conditions, they tell me that our working conditions in Texas are far worse. They have breaks in those sweatshops. They have water readily available.
I know not all employers do that there or here but the issue is the American inspectors that are there by demand of Americans to prevent cruelty. If I had a few dollars to pay for advertising I would so make this a public service advertisment.
Any way my long winded question is, if an employer calls you to be at work at a certain time, does that employer have to provide you with a minimum number of hours of work. This call center is known for requiring you to come in at x time and then only provide 2 or 3 hrs work. Is this legal in TX.

Amelia

April 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Hi R.! Although we usually take a very pro-employer stance, we have to agree with you on this one. Many call centers have sweatshop working conditions and basically abuse employees. The U.S. Department of Labor has issued several guidance letters specifically addressing issues in call centers, such as asking employees to illegally “volunteer” their time for training.

A number of states require breaks for workers, but Texas does not. Unfortunately, the owners of these sweatshops relocate their operations to the states with the fewest legal protections for employees, and Texas is among that group.

OSHA worker safety standards require that the employer provide water for employees to drink, although it may be tap water. If your employer is violating this regulation, contact OSHA at http://www.osha.gov.

Several states have laws regarding minimum pay when an employer sends a worker home early. For example, an employee who is scheduled for 8 hours but sent home early must be paid for at least 4 hours. You guessed it — Texas does not have any such law. A Texas employer can schedule an employee for 2 hours or 3 hours. Or, the employer can schedule the employee for 8 hours and send them home after 15 minutes. In that case, the employer must pay the employee only for time actually worked — 15 minutes.

Since you feel strongly about this issue, you should contact your representatives in the Texas Legislature about changing the laws. Politicians generally believe that labor laws are not necessary because employers tell them a) fewer restrictions = more jobs and b) most workers are treated fairly. Unless the politicians hear from workers like you, they believe that. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

sandy

April 15, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I work for a maintenance company in Texas. Because we go from site to site, the company picks us up from home & takes us home at the end of the day. We are NOT ALLOWED to take a lunch break, however my employer deducts the lunch hour every week. Is this legal? Also, we are only paid from the time we arrive at the first job site until we finish the last job site, not being paid for time riding to and from. Is this legal? I have been told that since this is a small company, (18 employees) that my employer can do these things. Also, never get the 15 or 20 minute breaks, sometimes working 8 – 10 hours straight, especially if the job is a large job and we are at the same site for 9 hours straight. Thank you for your help!

Amelia

April 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Hi sandy! Let’s take these issues one at a time. There is no law in Texas that requires the employer to give employees a lunch break, or short (10 to 15 minute) rest breaks. This is entirely a matter of company policy in Texas. However, if the employer requires that you work straight through, they cannot automatically deduct for a meal break that you never take. This is a violation of both the Texas and federal minimum wage laws. Those laws require that an employee be paid for all the time he/she works. If you work 9 hours one day, you must be paid for 9 hours, not 8.5 hours. You should file a wage complaint with the TWC for 30 minutes pay for every day you have worked for the past 2 or 3 years.

Generally speaking, an employee need not be paid for the normal commute from the home to the first job site of the day, or from the last job site of the day if they are a passenger in the truck. (The driver must be paid, because driving is work.) Think of this like working in an accounting office. Whether you drive your own car to the office or catch a ride with a coworker, your normal commute is not counted as work time. So it sounds like the employer is handling this appropriately.

The majority of Texas employment laws apply to small employers unless they are in the agricultural industry. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

may

June 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm

hi!

i was wondering if a bathroom faucet counts as a source for drinking water? the place i work has no water fountain. the only source of water is the bathroom sink and well, the thought of drinking from a faucet that is located where many people eliminate their wastes is really gross. i’ve heard when you flush a toilet germs float up into the air and coat everything!

thanks for your help. =)

Amelia

June 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

Hi may! OSHA CFR 1910.141 requires that the employer supply potable water. Potable simply means safe to drink, meaning the city or county has determined that the water does not have to be boiled before drinking. Yes, water from a bathroom tap meets this standard. There is no evidence that a water tap located outside a bathroom is sterile. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

John

July 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Amelia I work In Texas. I do like my job alot. However there is a problem with the time clock. If you are late in the morning, you get docked, fair. However if some clock out up to 10 min. early they get a full days credit. Is this right. What is the differance between 3 mins late or leaving 10 min early. Just because you came in on time that gives you the right to leave early and still get a full days pay. What can be done about this without losing your job????

Amelia

July 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Hi John! This policy is fair if it is enforced with every employee. It is very, very important to some employers that employees come to work on time. (And in some industries, there is a valid reason why.) However, in this case the employer doesn’t mind if employees clock out 10 minutes early — they are still paid for the entire shift. Our suggestion is that you come to work on time and clock out 10 minutes early.

If the employer is not enforcing this policy consistently, then it may possibly be illegal discrimination. But there would be nothing illegal or even unfair about requiring employees to be on time in the morning, but letting them slide out a few minutes early in the afternoon. Feel free to post more details if we haven’t addressed your question. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

cathryn

July 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Hi,

I tried to post this before but for some reason it never showed up. I understand it is an OSHA violation not to have a source of drinking water for employees and not to let them have water at their work station, but does a bathroom faucet count as a source of drinking water?

Before I confront my slimy employer I need to know. We do have a bathroom faucet, but I certainly do not want to drink from it!

Oh, and I live in 100 degree Texas.

Thanks!

Amelia

July 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Hi cathryn! Unfortunately yes, tap water counts as drinking water in most cases. (Occasionally a city or town will issue a “boil order” — meaning it is not safe to drink tap water without boiling it. In that case, the employer must provide another source of safe water, also called potable water.) OSHA has permitted many employers such as convenience stores and offices to provide only the tap water from the bathroom faucet. Theoretically your hands should not touch the faucet, only the water, so water coming out of the faucet would not be contaminated. OSHA regulations require that the bathroom be kept in a clean and sanitary condition. If you feel that your workplace is in violation, you can file a complaint with OSHA and they will inspect. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Rachel

August 3, 2010 at 12:12 am

I work for a dollar store in Texas and im a key holder. We are required to take either a 30min or an hour meal break where we must clock out which means we are not getting paid. Since im a key holder im required to stay at the store. I can not leave and if the cashier needs me for any reason i have to do what they need. If a customer needs a refund or to exchange something i have to do it. If the phone rings im the one that has to answer it. Should I be getting paid for that??

Amelia

August 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hi Rachel! The employer can require that you remain on the premises during your meal break. If your meal break is usually uninterrupted, then the break can be unpaid. When you are interrupted, you should clock back in and handle the task. If that results in you being off the clock for less than 20 minutes, you must be paid for the entire meal break under federal law.
If your break is interrupted more than half the time, then you are not genuinely on break and you should be paid for the entire meal period, every day. If this is the case, file a wage complaint with the TWC. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Caitlin

September 14, 2010 at 1:10 am

Message i’m very upset that everyone else states we get a 15 min. break every 2 hrs. I worked from 6:30 till 12:00 am and only recieved 1 i5 min break .Is this legal? Thanks

Amelia

September 14, 2010 at 7:43 am

Hi sheila! It’s not only legal in Texas, it’s generous.

We are not sure who this “everyone else” is, but they are mistaken. There is no federal or Texas law that requires meal or rest breaks for employees over the age of 18. An employee could be required to work a 5.5 hour shift or a 15.5 hour shift, without a break in Texas.

Some employees are entitled to additional breaks under a union contract.

If the employer is giving breaks to some employees and not to others with the same job, that could be illegal discrimination. But if everyone who works your shift receives only a 15-minute break, that is legal in Texas, and most other states. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Anonymous

September 17, 2010 at 12:25 am

I am a retail store manager in Texas and sometimes have to work a straight 10-hour period w/out break as I cannot leave the store and there is no breakroom. All other days I have a split shift with another manager and work anywhere from 6 hours plus, then he comes in and I can leave. I am told that even though we are working and cannot take a lunch break we will automatically be deducted 1/2 hour for lunch if we work over a certain number of hoursl. What is this “hour mark” of working where we will automatically get deducted (they say it is by law they have to deduct it).

Thank you

Amelia

September 17, 2010 at 7:13 am

Hi Anonymous! There is no “hour mark” where the employer has to deduct a break, and deducting a break that the employee does not take is illegal in Texas and virtually every other state.

The Texas and federal minimum wage laws require that an employee be paid for all the time she works. Even if there is no break room, the employer can require that you take a 30 minute meal break where you are relieved of all duties. However, if that is impossible (as when you are working alone in a retail store) then the employer cannot deduct for a meal break that you are unable to take.

Texas has no law that requires an employer to give a meal break to employees, so the employer is incorrect there. And no state permits an employer to deduct for a meal break the employee never received, much less requires it. If a tactful conversation with the employers doesn’t solve this problem, you could file a wage complaint with the TWC, because you are being shorted 30 minutes of pay every day that you do not get a meal break. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

james

October 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for all the great info regarding Texas Labor Laws. Just a quick question…I work in a satellite office and am usually the only person at the location for 9+ hours each day. I get docked 30 minutes each day for a lunch break, but i am required to be at the office and continue daily business during that time…everything from dealing with customers to answering the phone. From the information at the top of the page, I understand that I can be docked pay only if I am relieved of all job duties for the deducted time. How do I go about addressing this issue with my employer? And is there any way to file a claim for back pay as this has happened everyday for the last 6-7 months? Thanks

Amelia

October 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi james! Yes, you can file a wage claim with the Texas Workforce Commission for 30 minutes of pay for each day you have worked in the past 2-3 years. If you work 8.5 hours, but the employer automatically deducts 30 minutes for a break you are never allowed to take, you are being underpaid for 30 minutes each work day. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Amelia

Emily

October 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I will make this short. I forgot to punch in after punching out for lunch, so when I left for the day I punched in and caught the error. The manager corrected it but he put me down for an hour lunch. I told him I only took 30 min lunch break. He said he will correct it this time but will not the next. I will be charged for an hour. Don’t understand why changing a time card is such a big deal. Any way..Can he do this?

Amelia

October 21, 2010 at 10:54 pm

Hi Emily! Changing the time card is a big deal because employers want to accurately record the number of hours worked. There is also a risk the employee would clock out for two hours, and claim they were only on break for half an hour. Remembering to punch in and out is a basic requirement of almost every hourly job. Not doing so is kind of like being in 8th grade and not knowing the alphabet.

Nevertheless, no, the manager cannot do this. He cannot refuse to pay you for a half hour that you worked, as punishment for not clocking back in after lunch. Both Texas and federal minimum wage laws require that you be paid for all hours worked. If he does this again, either go to HR or file a wage complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Amelia

November 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I work for a home health agency as a field RN. Upon hire I was given a company car and a gas card fro traveling to see patients. Recently company cars were taken away as well as the gas cards.No car allowance nor mileage is being given, and our area of service has been extended another 200 miles. So now we are traveling even further each day but now using our personal vehicles and some people had to purchase a new car. Is the employer not required by law to give us some sort of reimbursement such as mileage?

Amelia

November 3, 2010 at 5:58 am

Hi Anonymous2! Unfortunately, no, in Texas the employer is not required to reimburse you for mileage or use of your personal auto. Some states, notably California, require the employer to reimburse workers for all business expenses, but Texas does not.
If you make multiple housecalls each day, you are entitled to payment for the travel time between calls, but there is no law that requires the employer to reimburse you for mileage. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

A.LEE

December 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

My question is this: If my employer offers us paid time off in the form of vacation time but still calls us for business related issues all throughout that time is he allowed to deduct from my off time if I am not “truely” off during this time. I am a salaried manager for a convenience store and am required to be on call 24/7 when I am off but company policy says this is to exclude our paid time off (as far as on call). When I said something about it to him he told me that I am required to answer my phone (which by the way the company does not pay for) at all times regardless and that by not doing so on my vacation time I am not doing my job as defined by the position. He has also gone as far as to tell me outright that I need to make a decision of my career or my family. Is he allowed to do this?

Amelia

December 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Hi A.Lee! This is very poor management but it may be legal. If the employer treats all managers this way, it is probably lawful. If managers of the other sex or of a different race, religion, color, etc. are treated differently, this may be illegal discrimination.

An employer can require that an exempt manager answer her phone 24/7, even if the employer does not pay for that phone. There is no law that would prevent the employer from calling you while you are on vacation, and many exempt employees have this experience.

Being on call does not necessarily mean available by phone. It usually means being available to work any shift if an hourly employee is absent. So it is possible that if you are being phoned with questions, but not required to come to work, he is within the company policy. To clarify this, if there is an HR department or another manager in the company you can speak to, you should talk to them.

Fifty years ago, many employers believed that work should be the most important thing in a manager’s life. Today, most companies recognize that it is important to have work/life balance. Our suggestion is that you look for a better job with a company that understands the concept of work/life balance, either in the retail industry or in another field. Meanwhile, you may want to keep this job until you find a better one. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

ryan

February 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

I am a full time cashier / full time student. There is a sign behind all of our cash register counters that reads “absolutely no food or drinks behind any register no exceptions” so we have to wait till we are granted a break before we can get a drink… it this legal?

Amelia

February 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Hi ryan! Yes, it is probably legal as long as you actually get breaks when you can drink water. There is no Texas law that requires an employer to give meal breaks or rest breaks to workers.

However, OSHA worker safety regulations require that employers provide a safe working environment. As long as the building where you work is air conditioned, it is probably not going to cause heat stroke for you to only drink on your breaks. If you worked outdoors in Texas in the summer, the employer would be required to allow you to drink more frequently. That is because if you did not, you would run the risk of heat stroke.

OSHA regulations are only guidelines. When the agency inspects a workplace, they determine if the employer is taking proper steps to prevent workplace accidents or illness, based on the individual situation. In some work environments (working construction outside in the summer) OSHA will require that employees be allowed to drink water constantly. In other situations (indoor work places) OSHA will allow the employer to restrict access to water, as long as employees don’t pass out or suffer other symptoms of heat stroke. In many cases OSHA has permitted the situation you mention. If you feel that this policy poses a threat to your health, you can certainly file a complaint with OSHA at http://www.osha.gov. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

Ann

March 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm

I work at a hospital that until recently, allowed its workers to snack while on the job. Now we were told we are not allowed to eat ANYTHING while clocked in. I have hypoglycemia and am used to snacking throughout the day. By the time I get to lunch, which is sometimes 4:00 p.m., I feel like I am going to faint. Is there a law requirement in Texas regarding breaks? Is what my employer doing legal?

Amelia

March 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Hi Ann! Texas has no law requiring meal or rest breaks. Many hospitals and restaurants have this policy because eating transfers germs to your hands, which can then be spread to patients unless you sanitize them first.

If your hypoglycemia qualifies as a permanent disability under the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act, then you can request a reasonable accommodation for your condition. Being allowed to take an unpaid meal or snack break at a specific time each day would be a reasonable accommodation. Being allowed to eat while on duty in a hospital probably would not be a reasonable accommodation. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Amelia

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