Understanding your right as an employee to breaks is important. There are different rules in different states. Texas, along with most other states, defers to the federal statutes for governing breaks.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, there is no break requirement other than rules regarding restroom breaks for sanitation purposes. The only other exceptions are special regulations for specific, highly hazardous occupations. This would include those who work in nuclear power plants. However, according to the state of Texas, Federal laws address nursing breaks, coffee breaks, smoking breaks and lunch breaks.
Nursing and coffee breaks
According to the 2010 Health Care Reform Bill, employers must give non-exempt nursing mothers break time to express breast milk. In the event that children can be in the office, time to nurse infants is also acceptable. This provision is only for the first year after the birth of a baby.
If a coffee break is 20 minutes or less in duration, the employer must pay for the break. This is because rest breaks promote productivity on the part of employees and therefore it benefits the employer.
Smoking and lunch breaks
There is no right to a smoking break either under Federal or Texas law. They fall under the same jurisdiction as coffee breaks.
Lunch breaks are unpaid. However, a “lunch break” must be 30 minutes or longer for the purpose of eating a meal only. The employee must not have any work-related duties during this time. In the event that an employee must answer phones or do other work while eating, the employer must pay for the break.