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FLSA rules that employers may be breaking

There are a large amount of requirements outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act regarding employers and their non-exempt employees. At times, some Texas companies might fail to follow them correctly, which could prove disadvantageous to their employees.

One FLSA requirement many employers commonly break regards meal periods. Employers are not required to pay their employees for meal breaks that are at least half an hour long, even when employees are required to stay on the company's premises. However, this does not mean that an employer can deny paying employees who take several non-productive, short breaks during their shift, such as when a waitress has no customers to serve. The law states that employers can deny pay for only one meal break per shift, unless the employee's shift is more than 10 hours. In that case, the employer can give the employee a second unpaid meal break.

Regarding non-working time, employers are not responsible to pay employees who are on call, even if the employees must carry a pager or cell phone to answer those calls. Therefore, employees are free to use their time as they wish. However, the employer should pay for the time the employee spends responding to the calls. Similarly, if an employee works a split shift and spends several hours between the shift for personal use, the employer is not required to pay for those hours. In regards to employees who do non-commute traveling for the business, however, the employer must reimburse the employee for those hours only.

Employers are required by law to pay their employees for the full amount of hours they work, as long as they work under the employer's control. Those who believe their employers have paid them unfairly might wish to consult an employment law attorney for direction with seeking compensation for their unpaid wages.

Source: Business Journal, "​Understanding some of the basic (but often misinterpreted) principles of the FLSA", Ed Zalewski, Aug. 23, 2016

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