With the exception of increases in the Federal minimum wage requirements, current labor laws have been relatively unchanged since the New Deal Era of the 1930s. The Federal government mandated Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, established the 40-hour workweek and has precedence over state labor laws. However, state labor laws can mandate more stringent regulations on employers and require breaks or rest periods to be scheduled during working hours.
According to a publication by the U.S. Department of Labor, only eight states mandate rest periods during the workday. Those eight, and an additional dozen other states require employers to provide meal breaks during specific work schedules. Texas is not a state that makes scheduled breaks or rest periods a requirement of employers in the private sector.
The Fair Labor Standard Act
The Fair Labor Standard Act does not require breaks or meal periods to be given to workers. Scheduled work hours are subject to what is agreeable between the employee and employer. However, the FSLA does require that nonexempt employees working more than 40 hours in a workweek get paid overtime wages. Employers can designate any day of the week to begin the workweek. The week consists of 7 consecutive, 24-hour days, totaling 168 consecutive hours. Texas employers, as well as employers in most other states, can require workers to work as many hours as they deem necessary without scheduling or allowing any paid or unpaid breaks, as long as overtime wages are paid accordingly.
Filing a Complaint
Paid and unpaid breaks, as well as holiday pay, vacation pay, severance or sick pay are all considered employee benefits granted by the employer, and are not regulated by the FLSA. However, when an employee has an unresolved wage and hour dispute with an employer, complaints can be directed to a local Wage and Hour Division office or call the Department of Labor’s toll-free Wage and Hour Help Line at 1-866-4-US-WAGE.