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Texas Payroll/Personnel Resource

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General Provisions
Retroactive Pay


State agencies and institutions of higher education are not allowed to grant extra or additional compensation to a state officer or employee for services that have already been rendered.


As part of the Comptroller’s role in maintaining the Human Resource Information System (HRIS), the Uniform Statewide Payroll/Personnel System (USPS), the Standardized Payroll/Personnel Reporting System (SPRS) and the Centralized Accounting and Payroll/Personnel System (CAPPS), there are occasions when agencies and institutions of higher education are unable to make changes to data in those systems or are unable to initiate payments from the system because of the prohibition on retroactive pay.

The Comptroller’s office reviews all requests for system changes to data in HRIS, USPS, SPRS or CAPPS for retroactive pay on a case-by-case basis.

An agency must provide sufficient supporting documentation to demonstrate the Texas Constitution does not prohibit the payment. The content and type of documentation that must be submitted will vary depending on the factual circumstances of the case.

An administrative error in awarding a salary increase is insufficient, by itself, to overcome the constitutional prohibition against retroactive salary increases. The error could be corrected by making a retroactive payment only if the error resulted in a state officer or employee not receiving the increase the officer or employee was entitled to receive under the law.

Allowable retroactive payment

If a state officer or employee had a contractual or other enforceable legal right to a salary increase but was not paid the increase for any reason, the state must pay the difference between the amount the officer or employee was entitled to receive and the amount actually received.

In this case, the employee is not receiving extra salary as they were entitled to the increase from the beginning. This type of retroactive payment is therefore not prohibited.


Texas Constitution, Article III, Sections 44, 51, 53; attorney general letters of opinion 93-57, 94-67, 94-46, 94-93; Pierson v. Galveston County, 131 S.W.2d 27, 29 (Texas Court of Civil Appeals, 1939).