Table of contents
What’s new in 2023
- No state-initiated labor law changes for 2023.
Wage and Hour Laws
The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 per hour, effective since July 2009.
Texas does not establish a state minimum wage but adopts the federal minimum wage referenced in the Texas Minimum Wage Act. This law also prohibits local jurisdictions from setting higher minimum wages for private employees.
Some cities have adopted higher minimum wages for their public employees. Private employers who contract with those cities, such as for highway construction in Austin, are required to pay the city’s designated minimum wage.
The following are exempt from the Texas Minimum Wage Act:
- Any person covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Any person employed by religious, educational, charitable, or nonprofit organizations
- Professionals, salespersons, or public officials
- Domestic employees
- Certain young people and students
- Family members of the employers
- Amusement and recreational establishments
- Non-agricultural employers not liable for state unemployment contributions
- Workers in dairy and livestock production
- Sheltered workshops
Tipped Minimum Wage
The tipped minimum wage in Texas is $2.13 per hour, with employers receiving a maximum tip credit of $5.12 per hour. A tipped employee must receive a $7.25 minimum wage per hour when the wages paid by the employer and the tip credit are combined.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Texas labor law does not require employers to provide meal breaks or rest breaks to employees. Such breaks may be offered by custom under company policy but are not guaranteed under the law.
Texas follows the federal legal requirement to compensate employees for all hours worked. The US Department of Labor defines hours worked as “all the time during which an employee is required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed workplace.”
Companies that contract with public entities, such as Texas cities, may be required to provide meal or rest breaks to employees who are working on the contracted project.
Employers in Texas must maintain employment and payroll records that include the following:
- The employer’s name and address.
- The name and address of each branch, division, or establishment that is operated, owned, or maintained by the employer.
- Each employee’s name, address, and Social Security number.
- The dates each employee performed services, and the state or states in which the services were performed.
- The amount of wages paid to each employee for each separate payroll period, date the wages were paid, and any remuneration other than wages paid to the employee for each separate payroll period.
- Employee hours and dates worked less than full time.
These records must be maintained for each employee and independent contractor who provides services to the employing company. Records must be maintained for 4 years under state law.
Texas employers are also subject to federal FLSA recordkeeping requirements.
Employee Scheduling Laws
Texas has very few laws prescribing employee scheduling practices. Retail employers may not require a full-time employee to work 7 consecutive days. The employee must be granted at least 24 hours off in each 7-day period.
An employer in Texas may change an employee’s hours without the employee’s prior knowledge or consent. This aligns with federal FLSA requirements.
Employee Compensation and Benefits
Texas follows the federal FLSA requirements to pay overtime to non-exempt employees. Overtime is paid at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s standard hourly rate and applies to all hours worked over 40 hours per week.
Texas employers may require most employees to work overtime, called “mandatory overtime,” as long as the employee is compensated properly. However, nurses in Texas cannot be assigned mandatory overtime.
Reporting Time Pay
Texas labor law does not require employers to pay employees who report to work if no work is performed. Similarly, there’s no minimum shift payment requirement if an employee is sent home early. Payment is required only for hours worked.
Payday Frequency and Method
Payday frequency and method of payment are covered by the Texas Payday Law. Employees who are exempt from FLSA must be paid at least once per calendar month. All others must be paid at least twice per month, with both pay periods being roughly equal in days.
Employers may designate any payday dates that they wish within these requirements. An employer that does not establish payday dates will be assumed by the state to have the 1st and 15th of each month as their paydays.
Wages must be delivered to the employee at their regular place of work, via registered mail, or via direct deposit. Employees who believe they have not been paid their correct wages may file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission up to 180 days from when a wage payment was due.
Employers must provide an earnings statement (or paystub) at the end of each pay period. The paystub must include:
- The employee’s name.
- Rate of pay.
- Total amount of pay earned by the employee in the pay period.
- Any deductions from pay and each deduction’s purpose.
- Amount of pay after all deductions.
- Total number of either:
- Hours worked by the employee or
- Units produced if pay is on a piece rate.
Paystubs can be delivered on paper or electronically. However, electronic delivery is allowed only if the employee has a reasonable ability to print the record.
Wage Deductions and Garnishments
According to Texas labor law, employers must have proper authorization in writing before making deductions from employee wages. Situations where deductions are allowed under Texas law include:
- Garnishment subject to a court order, such as court-ordered child support.
- Authorization under state or federal law, such as IRS withholding.
- Written authorization from the employee to deduct from pay for a specific lawful purpose, such as repayment of a loan.
When an employee quits and retains company property, employers may wish to recoup the property value through a wage deduction from the employee’s final paycheck. This is allowed only if the employee has given written authorization for the deduction.
Final Paycheck Laws
Final pay can be delivered via any of the methods allowed for regular wage payments: at the employee’s regular place of work, via registered mail, or via direct deposit.
If an employee is involuntarily separated, then their final pay is due within 6 calendar days of their discharge.
When an employee leaves voluntarily, their final pay is due on the next regularly scheduled payday.
Failure to deliver any employee wages, including final pay, may result in administrative penalties against the employer. Intentional failure to pay employee wages can be deemed a criminal offense by the employer.
Employers in Texas are not required to carry worker’s compensation coverage. Texas employers sometimes choose occupational injury plans that meet federal law requirements instead of worker’s compensation coverage.
A worker covered by worker’s compensation coverage must report a work injury or work-related illness to their employer within 30 days of the injury or illness. The worker must also submit a claim form to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) within 1 year of the injury or date they became aware of the injury or illness.
Workers covered by occupational injury plans may have different reporting requirements, which are set out in the plan documents.
The administrative process through TDI for disputed claims may include a benefit review conference, contested case hearing, appeals panel review, and a judicial review. Attorneys for employers or employees may be present for any step in the disputed claims process.
The Texas Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC) offers resources and assistance to workers navigating the worker’s compensation claim system.
Employers in Texas are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes and reimbursements. Employers may not deduct the cost of unemployment insurance from employee wages.
When an employee files a claim for unemployment, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will request job separation and past wage data from the employee’s last employer. TWC then determines the claimant’s eligibility for unemployment based on the following criteria:
- Type of job separation. To be eligible for unemployment, the claimant must be either unemployed or working reduced hours due to no fault of their own.
- Past wages. Wages paid during the claimant’s base period are used to calculate the amount of unemployment benefits to be paid.
Employees must additionally meet ongoing eligibility requirements to continue receiving unemployment benefits. These requirements include:
- Meeting all work search requirements imposed by TWC.
- Requesting unemployment payments as scheduled.
- Remaining physically and mentally able to work.
- Remaining available for full-time work.
- Participating in required re-employment activities.
- Responding to TWC requests as instructed.
Employers and employees may appeal unemployment decisions through TWC.
Workplace Rights and Protections
Discrimination and Harassment
Texas state law prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment based on the following characteristics:
- National origin
- Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
- Physical or Mental Disability
- Age (40+)
- Genetic information
Texas also complies with federal laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin.
Texas law does not extend prohibitions to discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, some cities, including Austin, have adopted protections for these characteristics.
Discrimination and harassment prohibitions extend to all stages in the employment relationship—including job advertisements, interviews, and hiring decisions. These prohibitions apply to all employers with 15 or more employees.
As of September 2021, prohibitions related to workplace sexual harassment and sex discrimination apply to employers of all sizes.
Employees who believe they have experienced discrimination or harassment in employment can file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Claims must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination or harassment and within 300 days for claims of sexual harassment or sex discrimination.
The TWC will investigate claims of discrimination or harassment and issue an opinion as to whether there is reasonable evidence of discrimination or harassment. The TWC may also defer the complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for investigation. If the TWC finds evidence of discrimination or harassment, the claim may be resolved through a process called conciliation or by allowing the claimant to pursue civil legal action.
An employer found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment may be ordered to pay back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, or punitive damages. They may also be ordered to reinstate an employee.
|𐄂 Family and Medical Leave||Texas does not have state laws governing family and medical leave. |
Texas follows the requirements of federal law under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid leave in certain circumstances.
|𐄂 Paid Sick Leave||Texas has no laws requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. |
If an employer offers paid sick leave in writing, then the employer is obligated to make good on that written agreement under the Texas Payday Law. A written offer can include an employment contract or an employment policy.
Some Texas cities, such as Dallas, created paid sick leave ordinances for employers operating within their jurisdiction. These ordinances were challenged in the legal system and have been made unenforceable pending the result of the legal challenges.
|𐄂 Paid Family Leave||Texas has no laws requiring employers to offer paid family leave.|
If an employer offers paid family leave in writing, then the employer is obligated to make good on that written agreement under the Texas Payday Law. A written offer can include an employment contract or an employment policy.
|𐄂 Pregnancy and Parental Leave||Texas has no laws requiring employers to offer pregnancy or parental leave, either paid or unpaid.|
Texas follows the requirements of federal law under the FMLA. That law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid leave in certain circumstances, including some leaves related to pregnancy or childbirth.
|𐄂 Vacation and Personal Leave||Employers are not required to offer employees paid vacation or personal leave. Employers are also not required to pay employees for accrued but untaken leave when an employee leaves the organization.|
If an employer offers paid vacation or personal leave in writing, then the employer is obligated to make good on that agreement under the Texas Payday Law. A written offer can include an employment contract or an employment policy. This obligation to follow written agreements also extends to an employer paying out untaken leave when an employee leaves the organization.
|𐄂 Holiday Leave||Employers are not required to provide leave or additional pay for employees working on any holiday. |
Employers who offer leave or holiday pay through their employment policies or an employment contract are bound to follow those written agreements under the Texas Payday Law.
|✔ Military Leave||Texas extends job protections granted to US military members through the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) to members of the Texas National Guard or other state military service. |
This law prohibits terminating the employment of an employee who takes leave to fulfill military commitments. The employee is entitled to return to the same employment held before they went on military leave.
Child Labor Laws
The Texas Child Labor Law applies to any employee under the age of 18. The law makes it illegal to employ a child under the age of 14, except for a limited set of exemptions.
These exemptions include:
- Work as actors or performers with authorization from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).
- Employment in non-recurring or non-scheduled work that does not endanger the child and to which the child’s parent has consented.
- Newspaper delivery by children aged 11 or older.
- Direct sale of newspapers to the public by children 16 or older.
- Participating in a school work program approved by TWC.
- Employment in a rehabilitation program supervised by a county judge.
- Employment in agriculture during a time when the child is not required by law to be in school.
Texas law places restrictions on the working hours of 14- and 15-year-old employees that include:
- No more than 8 working hours per day.
- No more than 48 working hours per week.
- No work prior to 5:00 am.
- No work after 10:00 pm on a day that is followed by a school day.
- Work hours must fall between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm during the school year, but may be scheduled between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm between June 1 and Labor Day.
Texas law also adopts restrictions on the working hours of 14- and 15-year-olds from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that include:
- No work during school hours.
- No more than 8 working hours in a day or 40 hours in a week when school is not in session.
- No more than 3 working hours in a day or 18 hours in a week when school is in session.
Texas places no restrictions on the working hours of 16- and 17-year-old employees.
The TWC is empowered by Texas law to set permissions and prohibitions on child labor in the state. A full list of permitted and prohibited work environments and conditions is maintained on the TWC website.
Violations of Texas Child Labor Law can result in criminal misdemeanor charges and administrative penalties of $10,000 per violation.
Workplace Safety and Health
Texas follows the federal law requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). As a result, all Texas employers must meet or exceed the OSH Act requirements.
These requirements are extensive, but fall into the following 5 categories:
- Administrative. Includes safety manuals and assessments.
- Training. Employee training will vary by the types of hazards likely to be encountered.
- Recordkeeping. Employers must maintain Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) logs and training records.
- Exposure Testing. Tests must ensure employees are not excessively exposed to hazards like certain chemicals or noise.
- Abating Physical Hazards. Identifying and taking action to remove hazards in the workplace.
Safety and health violations can be reported by employees to the Texas Department of Insurance Division of Worker’s Compensation.
Employers must report serious injuries or fatalities to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA logs of work-related injuries and illnesses must be maintained at the worksite for at least 5 years.
Labor Union Regulations
Texas has laws that support its designation as a right-to-work state. This means employment cannot be denied based on an individual’s choice to join or not join a labor union. Unions cannot compel individuals to pay dues to their organization even if the employee works in a position covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Certain federal work sites in the state are not subject to this law.
Public state employees, including public school teachers, are prohibited from engaging in labor strikes by law.
In general, labor disputes are handled in accordance with the terms of a labor contract.
Employment Contracts and Severance
Employment Contract Laws
Texas does not require employment contracts and is an “at-will” employment state. This means that employment can be terminated by the employer or the employee at any time for no reason, or for any reason not prohibited by law.
While no employment contract is required, employers and employees are free to enter into any written agreement they like, so long as all terms comply with the law.
Non-compete clauses can be included in employment contracts, but must be reasonable in terms of each of the following:
- How long it remains in effect following termination of employment.
- The geographic area where the non-compete applies.
- The scope of activities covered by the non-compete.
Non-solicitation clauses can also be included in employment contracts, but are also required to be reasonable and not unduly restrict trade.
There is no legal obligation for employers in Texas to offer severance pay. Employers who do offer severance pay in writing are obligated to make the agreed payment under the Texas Payday Law.
Additional Laws That Might Apply to You
|Firearm Prohibition Signs||Any private business owner, including an employer, who wishes to prohibit firearms from being carried on their property must post signs stating “Pursuant to Section 30.05, Penal Code (criminal trespass), a person may not enter this property with a firearm.” Signs must be posted in English and Spanish, in contrasting colors with block letters at least 1 inch in height, and displayed conspicuously in view of the public.|
COVID-19 Related Laws and Regulations
An executive order issued by the Texas governor in October 2021 prohibits any entity in Texas from requiring an employee to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Navigating Legal Issues and Resources
Assistance and further resources regarding labor laws in Texas are available through the following:
The non-profit Texas RioGrande Legal Aid also provides numerous online resources and offers free legal services in 68 Texas counties.
The information presented on this website about Texas labor laws is intended to be accurate and informative. Laws and regulations can change and may vary depending on individual circumstances. While we have made every effort to ensure the information provided is up-to-date and reliable, we cannot guarantee its completeness, accuracy, or applicability to specific situations. Therefore, we strongly recommend that readers seek guidance from their legal department or a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Please note that we cannot be held liable for any actions taken or not taken based on the information presented on this website.