Work makes up a large portion of most people's lives, so labor laws that regulate work hours and conditions are very important. The federal government regulates this area with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets overtime and minimum wage laws as well as setting other work standards.
Under the FLSA, states are permitted to set their own standards too, and employers must follow whichever laws give employees the most protection. That's an easy determination in Texas, since it is one of the states that has not enacted many state labor laws on these topics. Texas does, however, provide a narrow limitation for retail workers' weekly schedules.
Fair Labor Standards Act
Congress passed the first version of the FLSA in 1938. The bill provides uniform standards for important employee rights like the minimum wage for an hourly worker and when a worker is entitled to overtime.
The FLSA specifically states that nothing in the law "shall pre-empt a state law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection law specifies." If a state enacts a law granting an employee more protections, like a higher minimum wage or greater overtime protection, it must be applied. If the FLSA protections are greater, they are to be applied.
Texas Labor Laws
While many states have enacted labor laws giving employees greater minimum wage laws or overtime rights, Texas has not done so. The "Texas Payday Law" only addresses the timing and manner of wage payments.
But in this law, and in most other areas of labor law, Texas piggybacks on the FLSA. That means that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour applies in Texas, and that overtime is time and a half for hours worked over 40 hours a week.
Work Shift Limitation
Many people have the idea that overtime laws limit the number of hours an employee can work in a day and the number of consecutive shifts or days that an employer can assign to an employee. However, this is not true.
The FLSA details many areas of an employee's work, but it does not limit the hours he can contract with his boss to work in a day. Nor does it limit how many consecutive days he can be asked to work. That is considered a private matter between the employee and the employer and left to their agreement. Even California, with its broad employee protections, does not limit work hours for adults.
Texas does provide a narrow workweek limitation for retail employees, however. Section 52.001 of the Texas Labor Code forbids an employer in the business of selling merchandise at retail from requiring an employee to work seven consecutive days. The employee cannot be denied "at least one period of 24-consecutive hours of time off for rest or worship" in each workweek.
Overtime Laws Impact Work Time
Overtime laws can impact work schedules and serve to reduce workweeks. The FLSA requires that an employer pay an hourly employee 150 percent of her regular hourly pay for every hour she works over 40 hours in a workweek. That means that if she is getting $8.00 an hour, the employer must pay $12.00 an hour for time above 40 hours.
Imagine an employer setting up a schedule where the employee must work 80 hours a week spread over seven days. This is a grueling schedule, but an employer would rarely make that choice for financial reasons. That individual would earn $8.00 an hour for the first 40 hours ($320.00), but time and a half ($480) for the second 40 hours. It would be much cheaper for the employer to bring in a second employee for the second 40 hours.
Read More: What is Overtime Law?
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.