Does my employer have to give me breaks and lunches under Texas labor laws?

Neither federal or Texas labor laws requires employers to give employees rest or meal breaks for most employees; but there are certain exceptions under the law. There are a number of misconceptions floating around. Insisting your employer owes you a break without legal entitlement could put your job at risk. Common incorrect beliefs include the belief employees are entitled to a fifteen minute break every four hours or that an employee is entitled to a thirty minute lunch after six and a half hours of work.

The general rule under federal and Texas labor law is that workers are not entitled to any meal or rest breaks.

Some states have state wage laws that require employers to provide rest and meal breaks. Some people mistakenly believe these laws apply in Texas. Today’s post will discuss Texas labor laws regarding breaks and meal periods.

Texas overtime pay labor laws

Breaks required in Texas by employers

An employer does not have to provide employees with a traditional meal or break period. Breaks include a paid break period lasting less than twenty minutes. A lunch or meal period is typically an unpaid break period lasting more than twenty minutes. (Usually thirty or sixty minutes.) Under Texas labor laws an employer does not have to provide either paid breaks or unpaid lunches (or paid lunches).

There are some rules an employer must follow under federal and Texas employment laws when it offers breaks or lunches. If break periods of less than twenty minutes are provided then an employer must include those breaks in paid time (unless the employee extends his or her break beyond twenty minutes).

Yet if the employer provides an unpaid break period of more than twenty minutes then the unpaid period must be free from work. If the employee performs work during the unpaid period then the employee must receive pay for the time worked.

There are other break periods that an employee may be legally entitled to under federal and Texas labor laws.

Federal and Texas labor laws may require breaks under certain circumstances. These include:

  • Certain transportation employees must receive break periods based upon their work schedule.
  • Union collective bargaining agreements can include meal and break periods within the work day. The CBA does not create a statutory right to breaks; but whatever rest periods are part of the CBA are enforceable under the CBA’s provisions or generally as a contract.
  • Employees may receive a religious accommodation as a break period for daily prayers that must occur at a time that coincides with the work day.
  • Employees may be provided break periods as part of a reasonable accommodation for a disability.
  • FMLA intermittent leave may also entitle an employee to unpaid break periods. Employers cannot require employees to exhaust intermittent leave for regular breaks given to all employees but an employee with FMLA intermittent leave may be approved for additional, longer unpaid breaks to deal with the serious medical condition.
  • The Affordable Care Act also requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with break periods to expel breast milk.

Whether these laws apply to your situation depends upon specific facts of your situation. It may be necessary to take certain steps before you can trigger rights to breaks under these laws. For example, you may need documentation of a disability requiring break time before you can ask your employer for a disability accommodation. An experienced Texas labor lawyer can assess your rights and what steps you may need to take.

Get help from Texas labor lawyers

If your employer denies you a leave period you are entitled to under federal or Texas labor laws, then you should talk to labor  lawyers in your area right away. You may have a claim against your employer for refusing you a lawful leave period especially if asking for leave caused other negative consequences.

You should schedule a consultation with labor lawyers right away. Some employment claims require you to take action quickly to preserve your claim.

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