Does my employer have to give me breaks and lunches in Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas?
Neither federal or Texas law 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. 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 the laws that do apply here in Texas regarding breaks and meal periods.
Breaks required in Texas by employers in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texsas
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.) In Texas 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 employment laws.
- 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.