Texas Leave Laws

April 5th 2024

The taking of leave is key for the well-being and sustained productivity of employees. As a result, there are a number of laws outlining requirements for employers and employees.

This article explores the leave laws in Texas, including the various categories of leave available to employees.

In Texas, there are two types of leave: mandatory and non-mandatory, with specific guidelines and requirements. The mandatory leave laws mostly apply to those working in the public sector.

This Article Covers

Texas Required Leave
Texas Non-Required Leave

Texas Required Leave

Employers in Texas are required by law to grant their employees certain types of leave. These benefits mostly apply to those working for the state. The types of mandatory leave include:

1. Sick Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: For state employees in Texas, paid sick leave begins to accrue from the first day of employment. To be eligible, employees must work a minimum of 20 hours per week for at least 4 and a half months. If an employee wishes to take more than three days of paid sick leave, they must provide a doctor’s certificate stating the reason for their absence.
  • Duration: Full-time employees can accrue up to 8 hours of sick leave for each month of employment, while part-time employees accrue sick leave on a proportionate basis.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: This leave may be used for various reasons, including sickness, injury, pregnancy, confinement, or providing care for an immediate family member who is ill. In addition, parents with children attending nursery school through 12th grade are eligible for an additional 8 hours of sick leave per year, which may be used for educational activities such as classroom programs, field trips, music or theatre programs, and more.

2. Family and Medical Leave

  • Eligibility: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law providing leave to employees who have been employed by their current employer for a minimum of 12 months or worked 1,250 hours within the past 12 months. It is available to all state employees, public and private elementary or secondary school employees, and workers employed in companies that have at least 50 workers. Under Texas law, employees are required to exhaust all their paid sick leave and vacation days before requesting a leave of absence under the FMLA.
  • Duration: Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Reasons include the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child, the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition, as well as for an employee’s own serious health condition.

3. Parental Leave (certain employees)

  • Eligibility: Texas state employees who have worked less than 12 months or 1,250 hours in 12 months are eligible for unpaid parental leave. Employees must use all available paid vacation and sick leave before utilizing parental leave benefits.
  • Duration: Up to 12 weeks.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: From the date of birth of a natural child, or the adoption or foster care placement of a child(provided that the foster child is under the age of three), employees can take parental leave to take care of their child for various reasons.

4. Emergency Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: Employees are entitled to paid time off to grieve and attend to family matters in such events.
  • Duration: For the time specified in the agreement.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: This leave is available in the event of the death of an employee’s family member, including the passing of a spouse, parent, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, or child.

5. Military Service Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: All public employees who are members of the Texas military forces, reserve components of the federal armed forces, or part of a state or federal urban search and rescue team are allowed to take paid leave. Also, if there is a disaster, eligible employees are entitled to leave for each day they are called to active duty.
  • Duration: Up to 15 paid days off a year from October 1st to September 30th of the following year. Up to 7 days’ paid leave per year for those called to duty during a disaster, and unpaid leave for additional days.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: To fulfill military service or to serve during times of crisis.

6. Volunteer Services Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: State employees who are volunteer firefighters, emergency medical services (EMS) volunteers, and search and rescue volunteers are allowed to take paid leave to complete their volunteer work.
  • Duration: Up to 5 paid days off per year.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be taken to attend emergency training and to respond to emergencies such as fires, medical emergencies, or search and rescue missions.

7. Administrative Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: State employees who have demonstrated exceptional performance at work may be granted paid leave known as “merit leave”. This is a way for employers to reward and motivate employees.
  • Duration: Up to 32 hours of paid merit leave per year.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: In circumstances of exceptional work performance.

8. Voting Absence (public employers)

  • Eligibility: State agencies must give their workers paid leave so they can vote in elections.
  • Duration: Enough time for the employee to vote.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: If an employee requires time to vote in any national, state or local election.

9. Jury Service Leave

  • Eligibility: All employees who have been called to jury duty.
  • Duration: The scheduled and expected duration of the jury service.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: When summoned by the court to fulfill jury service.
  • Pay: Employers do not have to pay workers for the time they miss from work due to jury service.

10. Leave as an Organ or Bone Marrow Donor (public employers)

  • Eligibility: Any public sector employee who decides to donate bone marrow or an organ is entitled to a paid leave of absence.
  • Duration: Up to 5 working days per year for bone marrow donors and up to 30 working days per year for organ donors.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Leave can be taken for bone marrow or organ donations.

11. Donors of Blood Leave (public employers)

  • Eligibility: All state employees who choose to give blood are allowed to take paid leave. Before taking time off, employees must get permission from their employer.
  • Duration: A total of 4 days per fiscal year.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Used for blood donations.

12. Holidays (public employers)

  • Eligibility: All public employees can take a paid day off on holidays, regardless of their employment status – they can be full-time, temporary, part-time, or paid by the hour workers. However, if a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, or if the General Appropriations Act prohibits public offices from observing a holiday, employees will not receive a leave of absence.
  • Duration: For the duration of the official holiday.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: The occurrence of a national or state holiday.

The state and national holidays observed in Texas include:

Holidays National Texas State
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. 3rd Monday in January
Presidents’ Day 3rd Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day 1st Monday in September
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
Christmas 25 December
Confederate Heroes Day 19 January
Texas Independence Day 2 March
San Jacinto Day 1 April
Emancipation Day in TX 19 0r 21 June
Lyndon Baines Johnson 27 August
Friday after Thanksgiving Friday after 4th Thursday in November
24 December 24 December
26 December 26 December
Optional Holidays
Rosh Hashanah Variable (September/October)
Yom Kippur Variable (September/October)
Good Friday Variable (March/April)

13. Vacation Time (public employers)

  • Eligibility: All state employees are entitled to paid vacation time, except for those who work in higher education, teach, or have been in their jobs for less than a year.
  • Duration: Full-time employees accrue vacation leave based on their years of service. For part-time employees, vacation leave is accrued proportionately.
  • Circumstance for Utilizing Leave: Time can be taken for vacation purposes.

Outlined below is the vacation leave accumulation plan for full-time staff members:

Years of Service Hours Accrued Per Month Maximum Hours Carried Forward from One Fiscal Year to the Next
Less than 2 8 180
2 but less than 5 9 244
5 but less than 10 10 268
10 but less than 15 11 292
15 but less than 20 13 340
20 but less than 25 15 388
25 but less than 30 17 436
30 but less than 35 19 484
35 or more 21 532

Texas Non-Required Leave

In Texas, private sector employers have wide discretion when it comes to granting leave benefits for their employees. While some employers offer paid leave, others may not offer any leave at all. It is important for private sector employees to check the terms of their employment contract and company policies to determine their leave entitlements.

If you want to know more about the entitlements of employees in Texas, you can read our guides on Your rights as a salaried employee in Texas, and Your rights as an hourly employee in Texas. You can also learn more about Texas Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

When making this guide we have tried to make it accurate, but we do not give any guarantee that the information provided is correct or up to date. We therefore strongly advise you seek advice from qualified professionals before acting on any information provided in this guide. We do not accept any liability for any damages or risks incurred by the use of this guide.