State labor laws and federal labor laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regulate everything from wages to work hours in Texas. While there is no limit on how many hours an employee legally can work in the Lone Star State, retail workers and minors do have some restrictions.
Federal Fair Labor Standards Act
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets labor standards at the federal level for workplace protections like minimum wage, overtime pay, hours in a workweek and child labor. Texas generally follows FLSA guidelines when it comes to its workers.
FLSA guidelines governing Texas workers include laws on:
- Minimum wage: Workers paid by the hour must make at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour in 2023. Several states and municipalities set their own minimum wage and pay more to hourly employees — their laws supersede the federal hourly wage minimum. Texas does not have its own minimum wage law. It follows federal law and pays workers at least $7.25 an hour.
- Overtime pay: According to the FLSA, businesses must pay their nonexempt employees “time and one half” of the hourly rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. For example, if an hourly employee normally makes $10 per hour, after 40 hours in a week, they’ll make $15 an hour. Salaried employees usually do not receive overtime pay.
- Child labor: The FLSA regulates child labor laws by placing restrictions on the types of jobs minors can do and the number of hours they can work each day and workweek.
- Record keeping: Companies must keep accurate records of all workers’ hours and wages.
- Equal pay for equal work: Federal law prohibits gender discrimination for jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibilities carried out under similar working conditions.
What Are Exempt Employees and Nonexempt Employees?
Exempt and nonexempt employees are classified according to their work responsibilities, as per the FLSA. Exempt employees typically work in jobs referred to as “white collar," and often work in these positions:
- Computer and technology professionals.
- Outside salespeople.
- Professional workers in knowledge-based or learned positions.
"Blue collar" employees are typically nonexempt workers. They work in occupations that are trade or labor-oriented and may gain skills through apprenticeships or on-the-job training. Some type of jobs classified as nonexempt include:
- Construction workers.
Exempt employees are usually salaried workers and as such, do not receive overtime pay. Their pay is a negotiable figure that they and the employer agree upon before they begin the job. It does not change, even if they work less than 40 hours a week. Nonexempt workers are usually paid hourly and get overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.
How FLSA Defines the Workweek for Texas Employees
Federal employment law states that the workweek is 168 hours worked over a fixed, regular and recurring seven-day, 24-hour period. It does not need to begin and end with the calendar week. The workweek is adjustable only if a company makes a permanent scheduling change.
When calculating overtime hours, the FLSA considers every week on its own. Employers cannot average two or more weeks to calculate overtime.
How Many Hours Can a Texas Employee Work?
Under Texas state law, there is no limit to how many hours in a day an employee can work. If an employee works a shift that is a full 24 hours or is required to be on duty during that time, they’ll be considered to be working the entire time, even if they are permitted to engage in personal activities, like sleeping or eating.
If an employee works for 24 hours or more, they and their employer can agree to exclude "bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods" and meal breaks from the hours worked, but Texas places a limit of eight hours on excluded sleeping time.
Texas Labor Laws for Retail Workers
Texas has no rule forbidding salaried employees from working every day of the week, although retail workers have different rules.
A retailer cannot force workers to work seven consecutive days and cannot deny them a minimum of 24 concurrent hours off for worship or rest per workweek. This time off is in addition to the rest periods a company may grant an employee during work hours.
How Many Hours Can Minors Work in Texas?
The number of hours a minor can work depends on how old they are. Sixteen- and 17-year-olds in Texas have no limits on the number of hours or times of day they can work, but 14- and 15-year-olds do have limits.
According to Texas law, 14- and 15- year olds cannot:
- Work more than eight hours per day.
- Work more than 48 hours per week.
- Cannot begin work before 5 a.m.
- Cannot work after 10 p.m. on the day before a school day, including days before summer school sessions.
- Cannot work past midnight on any day.
According to federal law, 14- and 15- year olds:
- Cannot work during the hours when school is in session.
- Cannot work more than three hours a day or 18 hours a week when school is in session.
- Cannot work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week when school is out of session.
- Can only work between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. when school is in session. Between June 1 and Labor Day, minor employees can work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Employee Meal and Rest Breaks in Texas
Texas employment law does not require meal or rest breaks for workers, although an employer may offer them. The FLSA also does not require businesses to provide workers with meal or rest breaks.
If an employer in Texas does provide workers with breaks, it must pay them for breaks lasting 20 minutes or less, as federal law considers short breaks as compensable work time.
- OSHA; OSHA Break Laws: What Are Lunch Break Laws in Texas? (2022)
- TWC.gov: Texas Child Labor Law
- Replicon: Hours & Pay Regulations
- TWC.gov: E. Sleeping Time
- DOL.gov: Fact Sheet #23: Overtime Pay Requirements of the FLSA
- DOL.gov: Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act
- Legal Beagle: Texas Labor Law Regarding Part-Time Employment
- Legal Beagle: Fair Labor Standard Act in Texas for Exempt & Non Exempt Employees
- Thompson Reuters: Navigating the FLSA: Exempt vs. non-exempt workers
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.