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Wage and Hour Issues in Texas

Break Periods


Unlike many states, Texas has no statute or regulation addressing break periods in the work place.  So, in Texas we fall under the federal regulations.  Under 29 CFR Sec. 785.19, genuine meal periods are not work times.  The employee must be completely free from performing any duties during a genuine meal period.  For example, an employee required to eat at his desk is not truly relieved from his duties.  A meal time is not required.

Contrary to what some people say, there is nothing in the federal regulations requiring a break period (outside of the meal break).  For example, when I worked in a warehouse many years ago, I was told we were entitled to a 15 minute break twice a day.  There is no such requirement.  But, federal regulations do provide that many employers provide such a break, 5-20 minutes long, to promote efficiency.  Such breaks are considered paid time.  See 29 CFR Sec. 785.19. 

Final Paycheck


Texas Workforce Commission is supposed to enforce the Texas statutes regarding wages.  A statute is a law passed by the state legislature.  TWC provides a summary of the Texas Payday Statute at: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/lablaw/pdlsum.html.  Many employees want to know when must an employer pay the last paycheck?  Frequently,  many employers withhold the last paycheck until Joe Employee turns in his tools, pays for a damaged rear view mirror, turns in her uniforms, or whatever. 
But, the employer cannot do these things.  An employer cannot hold the final paycheck until an employee turns in tools or whatever.  The employer must pay the last paycheck within six days of the last day.  Tex.L.C. Art. 61.014.  But, this law has no real teeth.  The employer can incur a criminal penalty for missing this deadline.  But, few District Attorney’s would have the time to prosecute what they see as a relatively minor crime.

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