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Texas Payday Act and Charter Schools

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The objective of the Texas Payday Act (TPA) is to deter employers from withholding wages by providing employees an avenue for the enforcement of wage claims.

While government entities such as school districts, city, county, and state organizations are exempt from the TPA, charter schools are not. Charter school administrators may not be aware of TPA because the majority transitioned into their current role from public schools.

We’ve put together important takeaways to help charter schools comply with the TPA. The TPA’s primary purpose boils down to three main issues described below:

  1. When and how an employee should be paid
  2. What deductions from an employee’s pay are allowable under law
  3. Providing a process for employees to collect wages they may be owed

Payment of Wages

Employers are required to make timely payment of wages owed to employees and do the following:

  • Designate paydays in accordance with the act and post notices of paydays in the workplace
    • If the organization fails to designate paydays, then paydays are the first and 15th day of the month
  • Pay nonexempt employees at least twice monthly
  • Pay exempt employees at least once monthly
  • Make sure employees involuntarily separated from employment receive final wages within six calendar days

Wage Deductions

Employers are prohibited from making unauthorized deductions from employee wages:

  • An employee must specifically authorize in writing by the employee any deduction, other than payroll taxes, court ordered garnishments (e.g. child support or student loan), and any other deductions required by law.
  • Any deductions can’t reduce an employee’s pay below the federal minimum wage or overtime premium that is owed to the employee
  • Deductions for out-of-pocket loans made to an employee are only allowable if the deductions are agreed to in writing.
  • If an employee quits and does not return company property, wages only may be withheld if there is a written authorization from the employee.

Claim and Appeal Process

The TPA outlines specific claim and appeal processes the employer and employee must follow.

  • An employee has 180 days after the date claimed wages became due for payment to file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).
  • TWC investigates all wage claims to determine whether wages are owed to the employee and issues a Preliminary Wage Determination Order.
  • Both the employee claiming owed wages and the employer are able to appeal the TWC determination.
  • If the school owes the employee wages, the employer pays those wages to TWC and TWC pays the employee.
  • If TWC determines the employer acted in bad faith by not paying wages, TWC can fine the employer up to $1,000.

Additional information concerning the Texas Payday Act can be found on the TWC website.

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