Compliance Watch:
What are my overtime rights in Texas?

May 7th 2024

Overtime regulations serve as safeguards against employee exploitation and are designed to uphold equitable working conditions. In Texas, where state-specific overtime laws are absent, federal regulations dictate overtime policies. It is crucial to possess a thorough comprehension of your rights to guarantee fair compensation for any work performed beyond standard hours.

This article aims to delve into the legal landscape, regulations, and common practices surrounding overtime work in Texas, by addressing frequently asked questions.

This Article Covers

Understanding Overtime in Texas
Common Questions About Overtime in Texas
Legal Working Hours in Texas
Overtime Eligibility in Texas
Overtime Payment Calculations in Texas
Receiving Overtime Payment in Texas
Violations of Overtime Law in Texas

Understanding Overtime in Texas

Is overtime pay mandatory in Texas?

In Texas, it is a requirement for employers to compensate employees for all overtime work, unless they or their employer are exempt from overtime laws. Most employers fall under the jurisdiction of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), meaning they must ensure eligible employees are fairly compensated for any overtime hours worked.

When do I qualify for overtime pay in Texas?

In Texas, both employers and employees adhere to the federal FLSA as there are no state-specific regulations regarding overtime. This means that any non-exempt employee aged 18 or older is entitled to compensation for additional hours worked. Overtime compensation begins once an employee exceeds 40 hours in a week, without any specific provisions for daily overtime. Employees receive ‘time and a half’ pay for each additional hour worked, equating to 1.5 times their regular pay rate.

Special pay rates for weekends, nights, and holidays are not required by law unless overtime hours are worked during those periods. However, employers have the flexibility to establish different overtime policies if they choose to do so.

While there is no cap on the number of hours an individual can work, it is crucial for non-exempt employees to understand that the overtime rate applies for every hour worked beyond the 40-hour threshold in a week, ensuring they’re not taken advantage of.

How much is overtime pay in Texas?

In Texas, employees are entitled to receive overtime compensation at a rate of at least one and a half times their regular pay for any hours worked beyond the 40-hour limit established by the FLSA in a single week.

For example, if an employee’s regular hourly wage is $14, their overtime rate would be $21 per hour. With the minimum wage in Texas set at $7.25 per hour, the minimum overtime wage equates to $10.88 per hour.

Although the FLSA does not mandate double-time pay, employers have the option to implement additional compensation for overtime or double-time during negotiations with their employees or union representatives if they choose to do so.

Which laws govern overtime in Texas?

Employees in Texas have the right to receive fair compensation for their labor. Since Texas state laws do not address overtime, federal regulations are followed instead. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the specific law which governs overtime and the main points are outlined below:

  • Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek.
  • Overtime pay is mandated at one and a half times the regular pay rate.
  • Work on weekends, nights, or holidays does not automatically count as overtime work, unless extra hours are worked during these periods.
  • There is no restriction on the maximum number of hours an employer can request an employee to work.
  • The FLSA operates on a weekly basis, consisting of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. This schedule may not necessarily align with the traditional calendar week and can commence on any chosen day. Employers have the flexibility to establish different workweeks for their employees based on their operational needs.

Further details about overtime in Texas can be found in Texas Overtime Laws.

Common Questions About Overtime in Texas

Do employers have to pay overtime in Texas?

In Texas, if an employer falls under the jurisdiction of the FLSA they are legally obligated to compensate non-exempt employees for all overtime worked. Businesses are covered by the FLSA if their annual sales exceed $500,000 or if they engage in interstate commerce activities.

While some small businesses may assume they are exempt, the scope of “interstate commerce” is very broad. It includes activities like telecommunications, mail services, or handling goods destined for other states. Therefore, the FLSA covers the vast majority of employers, so it is unusual for an employer to be exempt from overtime rules.

Can an employee refuse to work overtime in Texas?

In Texas, there are no laws at the state or federal level limiting the number of hours an employee can work in a day or week. Consequently, employees cannot refuse to work overtime if their employer requires it. Refusal to work overtime may lead to disciplinary action, including possible termination of employment.

Nevertheless, there are some exceptions to this rule. Employees cannot be forced to work overtime if it goes against the terms of their contract or collective bargaining agreement. In addition, in specific industries such as the transportation industry, there are often strict regulations when it comes to working hours due to health and safety standards. It is illegal for employers to violate these regulations.

Can I take comp time instead of overtime pay in Texas?

Compensatory time, often referred to as comp time, is a practice where employees receive additional time-off as an alternative to monetary compensation for overtime work. In Texas, only workers in the public sector can take comp time instead of overtime pay; this practice is illegal for those in the private sector to safeguard against the potential exploitation of employees. Moreover, public-sector employers cannot force their workers to take comp time against their will.

The rules for comp time for state employers are outlined below:

  • Comp time must be agreed upon in writing by both the employer and employee before the commencement of any overtime work.
  • Employees should be able to use their comp time within a reasonable time of requesting, as long as it does not unreasonably disrupt the business operations.
  • Employees can only accrue up to 240 hours of comp time, any overtime hours worked above this amount must receive monetary compensation.
  • For public safety personnel (such as police officers or firefighters) there is a comp time cap of 480 hours, after which they must receive monetary compensation.

Furthermore, if compensatory time is granted, it must hold equivalent value to the overtime pay rate. This implies that employees should receive one hour and a half of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked.

Can I get overtime pay in Texas without employer approval?

In Texas, prior approval for overtime work is not needed to receive payment for such time, as long as the employee is eligible and does not fall under the exempt category outlined by the FLSA. Any work that an employer knows about or should have known about should be paid for. However, employees are not allowed to hide the fact they are performing overtime work on purpose.

In addition, although prior approval is not needed, employees can still face disciplinary action for doing overtime work without getting permission first.

Does Texas have double-time pay?

There are no state laws in Texas requiring employers to provide double-time compensation for particular hours or days worked. Correspondingly, at the federal level, the FLSA does not have any provisions demanding double-time payment. While employers retain the authority to establish double-time arrangements if they desire, it is not a legal requirement.

What is working ‘off-the-clock’ in Texas?

Proper compensation for all work performed is a fundamental right for employees in the US and Texas. Off-the-clock work is the term used to describe when an employees carries out job duties outside of their official working hours, without receiving compensation.

This extra work is known to the employer, however, is not included in the employee’s official workweek hours, often as a way to avoid paying overtime compensation to employees. Typical off-the-clock duties include:

  • Being required to work during allocated meal or rest breaks.
  • Being tasked with pre-shift duties such as cleaning.
  • Performing post-shift responsibilities such as closing a job site.
  • Correcting mistakes or redoing projects outside of work hours.

Being asked to perform work off-the-clock work is illegal in Texas as it violates federal wage and hour laws outlined in the FLSA, which governs overtime.

What are common ways employers avoid paying overtime in Texas?

Some employers may try to avoid providing proper compensation to their employees for work which should count as overtime. Common strategies used to not pay overtime include:

  • Requiring employees to perform ‘off-the-clock’ work: Employers often require employees to complete certain tasks, such as prep work, answering phone calls, or completing post-shift duties outside of regular work hours without offering compensation. This practice is illegal as employers must comply with labor laws which require the documentation of all tasks performed by employees and the proper compensation for all time worked.
  • Averaging hours worked: This strategy is frequently used against employees who receive payment on a bi-weekly or bi-monthly basis. For example, if an employee works 47 hours in one week, the employer might schedule them for only 33 hours the subsequent week. Although the employee is entitled to seven hours of overtime pay from the first week, averaging hours can create the impression that they worked two standard 40-hour weeks. Through this method, the employer avoids fulfilling their obligation to pay overtime, exploiting the employee in the process.
  • Providing comp time: Employers may opt to provide employees with time-off to prevent the need for them to work overtime hours. For instance, employees could be granted the option to take Wednesday off if they completed a double shift on Tuesday, ensuring that their total weekly hours remain within the 40-hour threshold for standard pay.
  • Misclassifying workers as salaried employees: In Texas, salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay if they earn more than $684 weekly or $35,568 annually. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027. To avoid paying overtime rates, employers might incorrectly classify employees earning below this threshold as salaried workers. However, this practice is unlawful and goes against federal regulations.

Can you work seven days in a row in Texas?

As there is no cap on working hours in Texas at either the state or federal level, employees over the age of 16 could technically work seven days in a row without breaking the law.

However, some employees may work in regulated industries or have conditions in their contract or collective bargaining agreement which limit the number of days straight they can work. Another exception is for those working in retail. Under Texas Labor Code § 52.001, a full-time employee working in retail must be given 24 hours off in each seven-day period.

If a non-exempt employee is required to work seven consecutive days, they should monitor their hours to guarantee they receive overtime compensation for any hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek.

How many ten-hour days can you work in a row in Texas?

Some states have implemented a unique overtime rule for employees on an alternative four ten-hour shifts work schedule. For such employees, they are eligible for overtime pay for all hours worked over ten on those days.

Texas has not established this special overtime rule. Employees are only eligible for overtime pay for all hours over 40 performed in a workweek unless the employee is exempt from overtime regulations.

What are full-time hours in Texas?

In Texas, as outlined by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as the health reform, full-time employment is defined as working a minimum of 30 hours per week, or 130 hours per month. Despite this, the typical full-time workweek usually amounts to 40 hours per week.

How many hours straight can you legally work in Texas?

In Texas, there are extremely limited regulations in place regarding the hours an employee can work. Provided an employee is at least 16 years old, they could technically work up to 24 hours per day. Despite the limited regulations, there are specific conditions which impact the number of hours straight certain employees can work:

  • Employees in regulated industries, such as truckers, often have limitations on the maximum consecutive hours they can work before being legally required to take time off.
  • Employees may have terms in their contracts or collective bargaining agreements which cap the number of hours per day they are permitted to work.
  • Full-time employees (at least 30 hours per week) in retail must be given 24 hours off every seven-day period.

Is overtime after eight hours or 40 hours in Texas?

Texas does not have a state-specific overtime law; instead, the regulations outlined by the federal FLSA are followed. Consequently, there is no law regarding daily overtime as observed in certain other states, where overtime is triggered after eight hours of work in a day. Rather, the FLSA enforces a weekly overtime threshold, whereby non-exempt employees must receive overtime compensation for any hours worked beyond 40 in a given workweek.

Does working on the weekend qualify for overtime pay in Texas?

In Texas, working on the weekend does not mean an employee will necessarily earn overtime pay, as the FLSA does not differentiate between weekends and weekdays. Nor does it apply special rules for holidays or night work. The overtime regulations remain consistent across all days of the week.

Under standard overtime regulations, if an eligible employee has already completed 40 hours of work in a workweek before the weekend commences, any additional hours worked during the weekend will be considered as overtime.

Employers have the flexibility to establish different work weeks for employees, showing the importance of understanding this schedule to ensure accurate calculation of overtime earnings.

How many hours-off between shifts is required in Texas?

Neither federal nor state laws in Texas state that employees must be given a certain amount of time-off between consecutive shifts.

However, some industries are regulated and place limits on the number of hours employees can work in a day or stipulate a certain amount of hours-off between shifts. Such industries include transportation and trucking which have strict health and safety regulations.

Additionally, workers covered by union agreements may have specific provisions in their collective bargaining agreements regarding time-off between shifts.

What does ‘hours worked’ include in Texas?

‘Hours worked’ encompasses the entirety of time an employee spends on duty or at a worksite, including any additional time they are required or permitted to work. Employees must receive appropriate compensation for all hours worked. In specific instances, travel time, meal breaks, or rest breaks may also be deemed as part of the hours worked:

  • Meal breaks: It is not obligatory for employers to give their employees meal breaks in Texas. However, it is common practice for employers to provide them to employees during a full workday. Meal breaks lasting at least 30 minutes are not included in an employee’s hours worked unless the employee must stay on the premises or remain on duty during this time.
  • Rest breaks: Employers are also not legally required to give employees rest periods during work shifts. However, short breaks of five to 20 minutes are typically provided. If rest breaks are awarded, under the FLSA, they should be classed as work time and be appropriately compensated.
  • Travel time: In Texas, travel time that cuts across a normal workday must be included in hours worked. However, the time an employee spends commuting to and from their regular workplace is generally not considered part of their hours worked. According to the FLSA, travel time should be considered as hours worked if:
    • An employee is required to travel during regular working hours.
    • An employee is required to work during travel time.
    • An employee is required to travel for an assignment away from the official workplace.
    • An employee is required to travel on an overnight assignment away from the official workplace during hours on non-workdays that correspond to the regular working hours.

What is the most hours a salaried employee can work in Texas? 

No state or federal laws in Texas outline the maximum number of hours a salaried employee can work. It is up to employers to decide the hours of a salaried employee. Employees on salaries are often not set a certain number of hours but are required to complete all assigned work as directed by their employer. Usually, working hours and expectations will be outlined in the employment contract and employers must stick to these terms.

Regarding overtime, non-exempt salaried workers are entitled to receive overtime pay for any hours over 40 completed in a workweek. In contrast, exempt employees, those earning at least $35,568 annually, are not impacted by overtime laws and so do not receive overtime payment if they work over 40 hours in a workweek. The exempt employee earning threshold will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027.

Keeping precise records of your work hours is advisable. If, upon calculation, you find that your earnings fall below the minimum wage per hour, you may have sufficient grounds to file a wage claim.

What is the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work in Texas?

In Texas, neither state nor federal laws impose limitations on working hours for most hourly employees. Consequently, non-exempt hourly employees aged 16 and above can work any number of hours per day or week.

However, those working in regulated industries or covered by collective bargaining agreements may have daily or weekly working hour limits. Furthermore, full-time employees (at least 30 hours per week) working in retail must be given 24 hours off every seven-day period, impacting the maximum number of hours they could work.

Although there are no limits on the number of hours an individual can work, non-exempt hourly employees in Texas are eligible for overtime payment for each hour over 40 worked in a workweek.

Overtime Eligibility in Texas

Who is eligible for overtime pay in Texas?

When it comes to overtime, employees are categorized as either exempt or non-exempt. In Texas, non-exempt workers, who are typically paid on an hourly basis and perform roles involving manual labor or customer service, are entitled to receive overtime pay provided they are at least 16 years old.

On the other hand, exempt employees are not eligible to receive overtime.

Who is exempt from overtime pay in Texas?

Overtime regulations are governed by the federal FLSA in Texas as there are no state overtime laws. The FLSA details various types of employees who are exempt from overtime laws and therefore not eligible to receive overtime pay.

Exempt employees usually work in “white-collar” jobs in professional, administrative, or executive roles, or function as salespersons. It is not only the job title which is important, individuals in these roles must also satisfy specific criteria to qualify for exemption from overtime, which are evaluated through the following three tests:

  1. The salary basis test: Employees must receive a consistent salary regardless of the hours worked or the amount of work completed. In other words, they must be classified as salaried employees rather than hourly employees.
  2. The salary test: The employee must earn a salary that meets a minimum requirement. In Texas, the exemption threshold for 2024 is $684 per week or $35,568 annually. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027.
  3. The duties test: The employee’s primary duties must focus on administrative, professional, or executive tasks, requiring discretion and independent judgment.

Numerous other jobs fall into the exempt from overtime category, including:

  • Airline employees
  • Babysitters
  • Commissioned sales employees
  • Computer professionals
  • Drivers and loaders
  • Live-in domestic employees
  • Farmworkers employed on small farms
  • Federal criminal investigators
  • Fishermen
  • Outside sales employees
  • Railroad employees
  • Salesmen and mechanics
  • Switchboard operators

A complete list of exempt jobs as well as any specific regulations that apply can be found on the official US Department of Labor website.

Can salaried employees get overtime pay in Texas?

For a salaried employee to be categorised as exempt from overtime they must meet all three of the following criteria:

  • Earn a minimum salary of $684 per week or $35,568 per year. This will increase to $844 per week ($43,888 yearly) on July 1, 2024 and to $1,128 per week ($58,656 yearly) on January 1, 2025. Further increases will occur every three years, starting on July 1, 2027.
  • Hold a professional, administrative, or executive position.
  • Perform tasks which use independent judgment and discretion.

If an individual on a salary does not meet one or all of these rules, then they will be classed as non-exempt, meaning that they are eligible to receive overtime payment. Such salaried employees are able to receive overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, as specified by the federal FLSA which governs overtime in Texas.

Overtime Payment Calculations in Texas

What is my regular rate of pay in Texas?

The regular rate of pay refers to the compensation an employee receives for each hour worked, which must comply with at least the minimum wage in Texas ($7.25 per hour). While calculating the regular hourly rate is simple for hourly employees, as it aligns with their standard hourly wage, it can pose a more intricate task for other employees using different compensation structures:

  • Salaried employees:
    • First, multiply the monthly salary by 12 to calculate the annual salary.
    • Next, divide the annual salary by 52 (the total number of weeks in a year) to reach the weekly salary.
    • Lastly, to find the regular hourly rate, divide the weekly salary by the maximum number of standard hours worked in a week (40 hours).
  • Piecework or commission employees (three methods):
    • The rate of the piece or commission.
    • The amount earned in a workweek divided by the number of hours worked.
    • For group work, start by calculating the group rate. This is achieved by dividing the total number of pieces by the number of individuals in the group. Then, multiply this rate by the number of hours worked by each individual to determine their regular rate of pay.

How do you calculate overtime pay in Texas?

Federal laws govern overtime in Texas and according to them, overtime compensation is set at 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate, commonly known as ‘time and a half’. Non-exempt employees become eligible for overtime compensation when their working hours exceed 40 in a single workweek.

To calculate an employee’s total overtime pay in a workweek, follow these steps:

  1. Calculate the regular rate of pay for the employee.
  2. Multiply this regular rate by 1.5 to reach the hourly overtime rate.
  3. Finally, multiply the overtime rate by the number of overtime hours worked in a workweek to determine the total amount of overtime pay that an employee should receive.

How is overtime taxed in Texas?

In Texas, overtime pay is taxed at standard income rates, there is not a higher tax for overtime. Your tax bracket, which depends on your taxable income and filing status, determines your tax liability.

However, if overtime earnings substantially boost your total income, you may move into a higher tax bracket. Consequently, you’ll owe higher taxes on your entire income, not just your overtime pay. It’s important to recognize that transitioning to a higher tax bracket is temporary and only affects the specific pay period when the extra income was earned.

Receiving Overtime Payment in Texas

How is overtime paid in Texas?

Overtime wages are paid to an employee using the same method as regular wages. In Texas the delivery of wages is fairly flexible with employees able to receive their pay in one of the following ways:

  • Handed directly to an employee.
  • Sent via mail to a specified address with adequate time for delivery by payday.
  • Transferred electronically to an account through direct deposit.
  • Issued to a third party authorized in writing by the employee to receive their paycheck.
  • Disbursed in any other manner agreed upon in writing by the employee.

When do I receive my overtime paycheck in Texas?

As Texas follows federal overtime laws, the FLSA governs paycheck standards. According to the FLSA, employees generally should receive overtime compensation on their regular payday for the relevant pay period during which the overtime wages were accrued.

Violations of Overtime Law in Texas

What if my employer refuses to pay me overtime in Texas?

In Texas, if your employer fails to pay some or all of your earned overtime wages, they may be violating labor laws. Initially, it’s advisable to reach out to your employer to determine if there has been an oversight, giving them the opportunity to correct the mistake.

If the issue persists without resolution, employees in Texas can explore the following methods to reclaim missing overtime wages:

Wage claims to the DOL or lawsuits must be initiated within two years of the violation (or the date you become aware of the violation) or within three years if your employer intentionally violated the law.

What is the penalty for failing to pay overtime in Texas?

Overtime in Texas is governed by the federal FLSA. If employers are found to have intentionally or repeatedly violated the FLSA by not paying their employees the correct amount of overtime pay, they may face penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation.

Intentional violations could lead to criminal charges, potentially subjecting the employer to fines of up to $10,000. For repeated violations, employers could face imprisonment. A deliberate violation encompasses all actions carried out purposefully or knowingly, as opposed to accidentally or involuntarily.

In addition to penalties and the payment of unpaid wages, employers may also have to pay liquidated damages to the employee. Liquidated damages are equal to the amount of an employee’s unpaid wages, effectively doubling the total compensation an employee receives for their original unpaid overtime wages.

How can I file a wage claim for overtime in Texas?

In Texas, an employee or former employee can submit a wage claim to the US Department of Labor (DOL) to recover unpaid overtime wages. The claim process involves:

  1. Collecting as much information and evidence as possible, as it is crucial for a successful claim.
  2. Reaching out to the DOL by completing an online form, or contacting the helpline at 1-866-487-9243.
  3. After establishing initial contact, the DOL representative assigned to your case will work with you to determine the most effective course of action.

Additionally, employees in Texas can also file a wage claim with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). To do this you must either:

  • Get a paper wage claim form from a TWC Workforce office and then mail or fax it to TWC.
  • Fill out an online form on the Texas Workforce Commission.

Can employers retaliate against employees for making a wage claim in Texas?

It is forbidden in Texas for employers to retaliate against employees or former employees for filing or threatening to file a wage claim. According to the federal FLSA, it is illegal for any individual to “discharge or in any other manner discriminate against any employee because such employee has filed any complaint.”

If an employee experiences any form of retaliation, such as termination or demotion, as a consequence of filing a claim or participating in an investigation, they have the legal entitlement to lodge a retaliation complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL. Alternatively, they have the option to independently pursue legal action to secure reinstatement, recover lost wages, and seek liquidated damages.

Learn more about Texas Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.