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TWC investigates wage claims under the Texas Payday Law, Chapter 61 of the Texas Labor Code.

Texas Payday Law covers all Texas business entities, regardless of size, except for public employers such as the federal government, the state or a political subdivision of the state.  All persons who perform a service for compensation are considered employees, except for close relatives and independent contractors.

Both employees and employers should be aware of the law so they will know their rights and responsibilities.

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Payments Subject to Payday Law

The kinds of payments subject to the Texas Payday Law include:

  • Compensation for services rendered regardless of how they are computed
  • Commissions and bonuses according to the agreement between the parties
  • Certain fringe benefits due under a written agreement with or policy of the employer

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Disaster-Related Wage Claims

If you are an employee and your last paycheck was delayed because of a disaster, you may submit a Texas Wage ClaimTexas Payday Law Wage Claim MS Word orTexas Payday Law Wage Claim PDF with TWC no later than 180 days after the date the wages originally became due for payment.

Review the documents below for more information about how the Texas Payday Law applies to employees affected by a natural disaster.

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Payment Delivery

Unless an employee agrees in writing to accept part or all of their wages in another form, wages must be paid in United States currency, a written instrument negotiable on demand at full face value for United States currency, or by electronic transfer of funds.

Wages must be delivered to the employee at their regular place of work during working hours, mailed by registered mail or by direct deposit to be received by the employee not later than payday, by any reasonable means, or to any person authorized in writing by the employee.

Texas Payday Law does not address how long a paycheck must be kept active before an employee must cash it, but does state that an employee has the right to file a claim for unpaid wages up to 180 days from the date the wages were due to be paid

Final Wages

Delivery of final wages can be made by the methods listed above.  If an employee is laid off, discharged, fired, or otherwise involuntarily separated from employment, the final pay is due within six (6) calendar days of discharge. If the employee quits, retires, resigns, or otherwise leaves employment voluntarily, the final pay is due on the next regularly-scheduled payday following the effective date of resignation.

If an employee resigns or gives notice they will be resigning, there is no provision in the Payday Law requiring employers to continue to employ the person until the date they intended to resign or to pay them beyond time they actually work. 

An employee may be entitled to unused wages for fringe benefits (vacation, holiday, sick leave, parental leave or severance pay) only if the employer provides for these benefits in a written policy or agreement.

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Compensable Time

For more detailed information on compensable time, refer to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) fact sheet Hours Worked Under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Pay for Meetings or Training

The Payday Law requires that employees be paid for all time worked. While state law does not specifically address pay for meetings or training, the DOL does address the issue of compensable time. Compensable time is normally defined as "all the time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer's premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place."

Paid Breaks or Lunch Period

The Texas Payday Law does not address the issue of rest breaks or meal breaks. Work schedules, including breaks, regular hours and overtime hours, are left to the discretion of the employer and are usually based on the needs of the business. However, if breaks are given, the DOL does have guidelines on this issue:

  • If coffee breaks or rest breaks of 20 minutes or less are given, they must be paid. They are paid because they are considered to be beneficial to the employer since they generally promote productivity and efficiency on the part of the employee.
  • Lunch breaks, defined as a break of 30 minutes or longer for the purpose of eating a meal, where the employee is fully relieved of duties (performing no work), do not have to be paid.

Premium Pay

No state or federal laws affecting Texas require an employer to pay additional wages for working on any day of the year, such as premium pay for working holidays or weekends.  Individual company policy generally sets premium pay.

Vacation Pay

Under the Texas Payday Law, an employer is not required to offer fringe benefits such as vacation pay, holiday pay or other pay for hours not worked. However, if the employer offers these benefits in writing, the employer would be obligated to comply with their own policy or employment agreement. The employer has the right to establish policy on how these benefits are earned, accrued, used and if they are paid out when not used, barring any policy which might be considered discriminatory as defined by law.

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Pay Periods

Each employee who is exempt from the overtime provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be paid at least once a month; others must be paid at least twice a month. Semi-monthly pay periods must contain as nearly as possible an equal number of days. Within those limitations, an employer may designate any paydays he or she chooses.

Employers must post notices of paydays in conspicuous places in the workplace. If an employer does not designate paydays, the employer's paydays are the first and 15th of each month.

If an employee quits, they must be paid in full at the next regular payday. Terminated employees must be paid in full within six days.

If an employee is not paid on a payday for any reason, including the employee's absence, the employer must pay those wages on another business day as requested by the employee.

Bonuses or wages paid on a commission basis are due in a timely manner according to the terms of agreement between the employee and employer.

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Deductions from Wages

To understand what wages are due and unpaid requires knowing what deductions are allowable.  Employers must get proper written authorization before making a payroll deduction.

The employer may not make deductions unless:

  • Ordered to do so by a court of competent jurisdiction, such as in court-ordered child support payments
  • Authorized to do so by state or federal law, such as IRS withholding
  • Authorized in writing by the employee, and then only for a lawful purpose (authorizations may not be too general or too broad)

Deductions for out-of-pocket loans to an employee, even with an oral agreement to repay, are allowed only if the deduction is authorized in writing.

An employer who has received an income withholding order is required to withhold from wages, including any severance pay, commissions, bonuses or amounts paid in lieu of vacation time that the employee may be due under company policy or agreement.

If an employee has quit while in possession of company property and is due a final paycheck, wages may be withheld only when the employer is authorized to do so by law, required to do so by a court or has written authorization from the employee for the deduction. Otherwise, the employer would need to attempt to recoup the property by some other means, such as civil remedies (e.g., lawsuit, small claims court or police report) or make arrangements with the employee outside of a wage deduction.

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How to Claim Unpaid Wages

An employee who believes they have not been paid all wages earned may submit a wage claim with TWC no later than 180 days after the date the claimed wages originally became due for payment.  If part of your unpaid wages were due within 180 days, submit a claim only for that part.

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Withdrawal of Wage Claim or Satisfaction of Payment Declaration

Withdrawal of Wage Claim or Satisfaction of Payment Declaration

TWC does not process contractual settlements between parties regarding wage claims.  If the parties reach an outside settlement, the claimant may withdraw their wage claim if an order has not become final. If an order has become final, the claimant may declare satisfaction of payment.

If a wage claim is still under consideration by TWC, or a timely appeal has been filed with the Agency, the wage claim is not final. In this case, the claimant can submit a Withdrawal of Wage Claim form (WH-119)  Form LL-119 Withdrawal of Wage Claim PDF. Once TWC receives the withdrawal form, we will not recognize or enforce any orders that may have been issued. This includes assessment of administrative penalties against the employer. TWC will release any liens or freezes.

If either party does not file an appeal within 21 days from the date the Preliminary Wage Determination Order is mailed, the order has become final for all purposes. If either party does not file an appeal within 14 days from the date the Wage Claim Appeal Tribunal or Commission order is mailed, the order has become final for all purposes. A denial of a Motion for Rehearing becomes final 14 days after the date it is mailed. A denial of Motion for Rehearing, or order of the Commission when no Motion for Rehearing has been filed, becomes final 14 days from the date it is mailed regardless as to whether a party files for judicial review of the decision. After an order has become final, the claimant can submit a Satisfaction of Payment Declaration.

A Satisfaction of Payment Declaration form (WH-120) Form LL-120 Satisfaction of Payment Declaration PDF differs from a withdrawal in that TWC will still recognize that an order has been issued, however, TWC will no longer pursue collection actions on wages owed by the employer to the claimant under a wage claim. The employer will still be liable to TWC for any administrative penalties assessed on the claim. TWC will release any liens or freezes on the claim once any administrative penalties owed are paid to TWC.

The claimant may not cancel or rescind a declaration once the form has been submitted. Once submitted TWC will not take any further collections actions on the claim for ANY reason.

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Wage Claim Determination & Appeals

TWC investigates all wage claims to determine whether wages are owed to employees under the Texas Payday Law. Based on our investigation, we issue a Preliminary Wage Determination Order. Both the person claiming unpaid wages and the employer have a right to appeal our determination.  To learn how to appeal a Preliminary Wage Determination Order, see Texas Payday Law Appeals.

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If TWC determines that the employer must pay wages, the employer pays those wages to TWC and we pay the person due the wages.  If the employer does not voluntarily comply with TWC’s order and it becomes necessary to collect the wages due, we may impose administrative liens and bank levies on the employer. These actions are taken based on the information that TWC has on the employer’s address and the possible location of their financial assets.  Any liens filed will remain on record in the county in which they were recorded until the amount is paid.  Liens filed by TWC attach to any real property (real estate) in the name of the employer and act as an incentive for the employer to resolve the wage orders.

At the claimant’s request, we may assign the administrative lien to the claimant.  After the lien is assigned, the claimant may  want to consult with an attorney to determine what addition enforcement of the lien is then available.  Once a lien is assigned, TWC no longer has the authority to take action on the claimant’s behalf to collect the ordered wages.  

Since TWC can only pay the claimant if the amounts ordered are either submitted by the employer or collected based on the legal actions available in the Payday Law, there is no guarantee of payment.

For information regarding employers who have been found in violation of the Texas Payday Law and have active administrative liens of $2,000.00 or greater, please see Wage and Hour Liens.

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If TWC determines that an employer acted in bad faith by not paying wages as required by law, we may assess an administrative penalty against the employer equal to the wages claimed or $1,000, whichever is less. We may assess penalties in the same amount against an employee who files a wage claim in bad faith.

It is illegal for an employer to:

  • Fail to pay wages after we advise wages are due
  • Hire or continue to employ an employee with the intent of avoiding paying wages

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Bond to Secure Wage Payments

TWC may require an employer to have a bond issued by a surety company if the employer is convicted of two violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act or if a TWC final wage payment order remains unpaid for more than ten days after the order has become final and no appeal is pending.

TWC sets the bond amount. It must guarantee the payment of any sum recovered against the employer under Texas Payday Law and that the employer will pay the employees in accordance with the Texas Payday Law for a period of up to three years. If an employer fails to deposit the bond required, we may pursue a court order that the employer cease doing business until they furnish the bond.

Because of the high cost of such surety bonds, the requirement that an employer furnish such security could cause the failure of a business.

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