According to the Department of Labor (DOL), frequent breaks taken by an employee that is covered by FMLA are considered uncompensated time. This is because they are not being taken for the benefit of the employer. The DOL cited the fact that FMLA leave is unpaid when handing down its decision. Therefore, companies in Texas and throughout the country don't need to pay employees when they take a break because of a serious health condition.
However, there is a caveat to that ruling. Employers are still responsible for paying for any breaks offered to other employees in the company. Therefore, if a company gives all its employees a paid 15-minute break, even those who take extra breaks must be compensated for at least one of them. The ruling by the DOL may help employers better determine when they are within their rights to reduce pay for those who need breaks or are absent because of health issues.
Companies are generally obligated to adhere to employment law regardless of where they are located. State and federal rules may mandate that companies pay a minimum wage, provide overtime pay and allow workers to take meal and other rest breaks. Employers who have questions about whether a workplace policy is legal may benefit from talking with an attorney. It may also be possible to have questions answered by a government agency such as the DOL.
An attorney may also be able to assist an employer by talking to the DOL or other government agencies on the company's behalf. Asking for a ruling may make it easier to avoid a lawsuit from an employee or group of employees. Even if an organization wins a lawsuit, merely going to court can prove to be a costly endeavor.