Myth 1—Nonexempt employees are entitled to premium pay if they work on a scheduled holiday.
There’s no requirement to pay employees a higher rate simply because they work on a scheduled holiday.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires nonexempt employees to be paid for all hours worked. If the day an employee works is a holiday or weekend, the district isn’t required to change the employee’s rate of pay. The only requirement for additional pay is if the employee works more than 40 hours in the workweek. The employee must be paid overtime at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for any time worked over 40 hours.
Myth 2—An employee who is “on-call” over the holiday break is entitled to be paid during the entire break.
An employee isn’t entitled to be paid just because he or she is required to carry a cell phone for the purpose of being called back to work. There’s no hard and fast rule to determine when an employee must be paid for being on call. An employee’s entitlement to on-call pay depends on the degree of freedom allowed. The more restrictions placed on the employee’s time and movements, the more likely it is he or she must be paid.
Some things to consider when determining if on-call time should be paid include the following:
- Restrictions on the employee’s ability to travel and go about personal activities
- How quickly the employee is expected to respond to a call. On-call time is more likely to be compensable if the employer requires a short turnaround time between the call and the response
- The frequency and number of call-backs
- The consequences of failing to respond to the call in a timely manner
In the event that the employee is called in, the district is required to pay for all time worked. In addition, the employee must be paid for the travel time to and from the work location.
Myth 3—Districts can award bonuses to its employees during the holiday season
Pay increases and bonuses aren’t permissible during the middle of the school year unless planned in advance or in exchange for more work. The Texas Constitution prohibits the grant of extra compensation, fees, or allowances to school district contract employees.
If a school board adopts a specific bonus plan in advance, it’s permissible to pay the bonus during the holiday season.
Myth 4—Employees may not accept appreciation gifts from parents
Unlike gifts from the district to employees, gifts from parents or students are permitted by the state, as long as the gift isn’t a bribe. Also, keep in mind UIL coaches and sponsors for high school activities can be suspended if they accepts gifts valued at more than $500 per year from any source unrelated to the district in recognition for coaching.
For more information on the legal restrictions of gifts and benefits, visit the TASB Legal Services website.