The Texas Workforce Commission regulates labor and employment laws for the state and upholds the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Texas labor law mainly follows FLSA guidelines, which regulate everything from minimum wage to overtime pay.
Salaried employees in every state, including Texas, are “exempt” employees, which means they generally don’t get overtime pay. There are overtime exemptions for salaried employees depending on their position and regular rate of pay.
Federal Fair Labor Standards Act
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets federal labor standards for minimum wage and overtime pay, as well as other workplace protections. While many states and municipalities have their own laws that are more generous than the FLSA guidelines, Texas generally follows federal rules when it comes to its workers.
FLSA guidelines that govern Texas employees are:
- Minimum wage: Hourly workers must make at least federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour in 2023. Many states have their own minimum wage laws for hourly employees, which supersede the federal minimum wage. The state of Texas does not; its minimum wage is also $7.25. In some Texas cities, the minimum wage is much higher. For example, in Dallas, it is $18 an hour in 2023.
- Overtime pay: Under the FLSA, companies must pay non-exempt employees time and a half of their hourly rate for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Salaried workers typically do not receive overtime pay, with some exceptions.
- Child labor: The FLSA regulates child labor by placing restrictions on the number of hours minors can work and the types of jobs they can take.
- Record keeping: Businesses with employees must keep accurate records of workers’ hours and wages.
- Equal work/equal pay: The FLSA prohibits gender discrimination for positions and duties requiring equal responsibility, skill and effort carried out under similar working conditions.
Exempt Employees vs. Non-Exempt Employees in Texas
"Non-exempt" employees are those who earn an hourly wage. They are entitled to receive overtime pay of time and a half as set forth under the FLSA. Some examples of non-exempt employees include, but are not limited, to:
- Production line employees in non-management roles.
- Maintenance workers in non-management roles.
- Carpenters, craftsmen, electricians, plumbers and mechanics.
- Construction workers.
- Operating engineers.
- Hazardous material workers.
- Deputy sheriffs, state troopers, police officers. parole/probation officers.
- Firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.
Exempt employees are typically salaried workers and as such, do not get overtime pay. Salary is the amount paid for an agreed-upon pay period, which covers at least a week. Pay is not reduced on the basis of quantity of work the employee carries out.
Texas Overtime Laws for Executive and Administrative Positions
Salaried employees in executive positions are exempt from overtime pay, but there are some exceptions. Executive employees do not receive overtime pay if they:
- Receive a salary of $684 a week or more (or $35,568 a year).
- Primarily manage the company that employs them.
- Direct two or more employees regularly.
- Have authorization to hire or fire workers or have influence over their employment status.
Administrative employees do not receive overtime pay if they:
- Receive a salary of $684 a week or more (or $35,568 a year).
- Perform non-manual or office labor directly related to management or to the employer’s general business operations or that of their customers.
- Exercise independent judgment and discretion over a business’ significant matters.
Overtime Rules and Professional Employees
Professional employees—learned and creative professionals—are also exempt from FLSA overtime pay requirements. Both types of employees do not receive overtime pay if they make $684 a week or more (or $35,568 a year).
Learned employees do not get overtime pay if:
- They require advanced knowledge to carry out their primary duties.
- This knowledge is in a science or learning field.
- They acquired this knowledge via lengthy specialized intellectual instruction.
Creative employees do not get overtime pay if their work requires them to be inventive, imaginative, original or talented in a field of artistic or creative endeavors.
A retail business cannot force an employee to work seven consecutive days and cannot deny that worker at least 24 concurrent hours off for worship or rest in each workweek.
FLSA Defines Workweek for Texas Employees
According to federal law, the workweek is the total of 168 hours over a concurrent, seven-day, 24-hour period. The fixed period does not need to begin and end when the calendar week does, but the workweek is adjustable only if a permanent change is made. The FLSA considers every week on its own when calculating overtime hours—an employer cannot average the hours of two or more weeks.
Under state law, while there is no actual rule forbidding salaried employees from working seven days a week, there are some rules for retail workers.
A retail business cannot force an employee to work seven consecutive days and cannot deny that worker at least 24 concurrent hours off for worship or rest in each workweek. This time off is additional to any rest periods the employer grants the worker during work hours.
Employee Meal and Rest Breaks in Texas
Texas does not have legal requirements for meal or rest breaks, unlike some other states. Similarly, the FLSA does not require businesses to provide workers with meal or rest breaks—doing so is up to the employer.
If a Texas employer does provide breaks, it must pay its workers for breaks that last 20 minutes or less, as the FLSA considers this time as compensable work time.
Some municipalities have passed some break ordinances. For example, in 2010, Austin granted its construction workers one 10-minute break for every four hours of work.
- OSHA: OSHA Break Laws: What Are Lunch Break Laws in Texas? (2022)
- Austin.gov: 20100729-047, Ordinance
- DOL.gov: Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA
- TWC.gov: Salary Test for Exempt Employees
- Her Lawyer: Texas Exempt Employee Laws: Explained
- DOL: Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.