Texas Labor Law Breaks
Regarding breaks for all employees, Texas adheres to federal law by default. Only if it lasts less than 20 minutes must a meal break be paid if an employer wishes to offer one. As long as the employee is entirely relieved of all obligations, breaks longer than 30 minutes are considered meal intervals and do not require payment.
Texas Meal Break Laws
The state of Texas does not have a required lunch law, like some other states. The United States also does not have a federal law mandating that employees receive a meal break provided by employers. Under these terms employees can legally require their employees to work eight, ten, or sixteen hours without a meal break. Most Human Resources departments would not recommend that employers undertake this practice, even though it is perfectly legal to do so.
Human Resources recommends that employers provide a thirty-minute unpaid meal break each work day, along with one or more ten-minute or fifteen-minute paid breaks on an eight-hour shift. Human Resources recommend this practice as providing breaks often leads to more productive work. Like meal breaks, short, paid breaks are not required through Texas law. However federal agencies do require that employees be provided with meal breaks for public safety. Other federal agencies allow restroom breaks whenever needed but may not provide meal breaks.
Employers have the right to require employees to take a meal break if company policy permits it. Mandatory meal breaks can be anywhere from thirty minutes long to sixty minutes long and employees are required to abide. Discipline can follow if the policy is broken, along with termination, if necessary.
Texas Sick Leave Laws
There is currently no law that requires employers to provide paid sick live for employees. Attempts to pass a bill through Congress have been made as recently as 2009, but no change is in the works. No state or federal law requires employers to provide paid leave of any kind, including paid holidays, paid vacations, or paid sick leave.
Employers may provide benefit packages that give paid vacation, paid sick leave, or paid holidays, which is at the employer’s discretion. Because employers are not required to offer paid leave, if an employer creates a written paid leave policy, he or she is bound to legally provide payment for vacations, sick leave, and holidays.
Some employees offer paid leave where leave can be accumulated if not used. If an employee was terminated prior to receiving all of his or her yet-to-be-paid sick leave, he or she may claim this payment through a court hearing. Not all employee policies will allow accumulated paid sick leave to be obtained after termination.
Texas Maternity Leave Laws
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires employers to provide expectant mothers with unpaid maternity leave. This leave can be up to twelve weeks and can also include other medical reasons, such as cancer, disease, heart attack, and others. Maternity leave allows new mothers the opportunity to bond with their newborn children or adoptive parents to bond with their new child.
This twelve-week leave also allows employees to care for the elderly, ill parents, spouses, and children. An employee cannot, normally, be terminated from his or her occupation because he or she uses the allotted FMLA personal leave. Upon returning to work, an employer is required to provide the same job before leave or a job of equal salary.