Illinois Labor Laws

May 13th 2024

This article covers:

What are Illinois Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Illinois Minimum Wage $14.00
Illinois Overtime 1.5 times the regular wage for any time worked over 40 hours/week ($21.00 for minimum wage workers)
Illinois Breaks Meal break for employees working at least 7.5 hours per shift (at least a 20-minute break, after 5 hours of work)

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Illinois?

Illinois law prohibits discrimination when employers make hiring decisions. These include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • Ancestry
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Marital status
  • Citizenship status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender-related identity
  • Pregnancy
  • Military status
  • Physical/mental disability

The Illinois Human Rights Act expressly prohibits any adverse employment actions taken against applicants or potential employees based on such factors.

Starting on January 1, 2022, Illinois is no longer following the employment-at-will regulation. Instead, the Just Cause regulation is now in effect. This means that employers can now only terminate an employee’s employment for a just cause, including failure to satisfactorily perform job duties, egregious misconduct, or bona fide economic reasons. Additionally, employers are now required to provide mandatory severance pay upon termination. Employers must also provide a final paycheck to employees whose employment has been terminated, including all wages and benefits owed. The final paycheck should be given at the time of separation if possible, and if not, no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.  

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Illinois?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Illinois that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • Discrimination Laws – Discrimination is a serious issue in the workplace and is both unethical and illegal in Illinois. All employers, regardless of the number of employees, are obligated to comply with the state’s anti-discrimination law. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their race, color, ancestry, religion, gender, national origin, age, marital status, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender-related identity, pregnancy, military status, or physical/mental disability. Employers are also prohibited from engaging in actions such as unequal pay, demotions, failure to promote, unequal benefits, workplace harassment, retaliation, and unequal terms and conditions of employment. It’s important that employers understand and comply with these laws to ensure a fair and just workplace for all employees.
  • OSHA Law – It’s crucial for employers to provide a safe and healthy working environment, as mandated by both federal and state laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to continuously inspect and improve safety conditions, with the goal of reducing workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. Employers must train and educate their employees, as well as conduct activities to ensure safe working conditions. Optimal working conditions are a must, with premises free from any hazards that may cause harm. Regular safety demonstrations and inspections, scheduled or not, are necessary to address concerns and prevent accidents.
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws – These laws aim to protect workers from facing negative consequences as a result of exercising their legal rights. An employee who has information about illegal activities or potential hazards at work should be able to report it without fear of losing their job. The term “whistleblower” refers to such workers. Employers cannot discriminate against employees who exercise their First Amendment rights, report a violation of the law, oppose discrimination, file a complaint under OSHA, or participate in an investigation related to workplace discrimination.
  • Background Check Laws – Background checks are permitted but not mandatory for all employers, governed by the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act which monitors the correct behavior regarding the gathering, precision, and scatter of data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In the state of Illinois, certain positions require background checks, such as healthcare staff, park district workers, armed security guards, private investigators, and more as mentioned above.
  • Credit and Investigative Check Laws – Illinois law prohibits employers from using or requesting credit checks for employees or job candidates, with certain exemptions. These exemptions include those working in financial institutions, insurance businesses, law enforcement, and debt collection.
  • Arrest and Conviction Check Laws – When interviewing potential employees, employers with a minimum of 15 staff members are prohibited from asking questions about criminal records. Nevertheless, employers may request this information from their potential employees once they have received an official job offer.
  • Non-compete Agreement Laws – Employers are not allowed to include a non-compete clause in employment contracts for employees earning up to $75,000 per year. This means that employees are free to work elsewhere, provide services to other employers, and even start their own businesses without any restrictions from the workplace policy.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Laws – In Illinois, employers cannot discipline employees for using medical marijuana off-duty, since it is now legal. However, recreational use can still be prohibited by specific company policies. Additionally, employers can request drug and alcohol tests if they have reasonable suspicion that usage is affecting job performance.
  • Sexual Harassment Training Laws – Illinois-based employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to their employees within the first 90 days of employment without exception.
  • COBRA Law – The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (shortened COBRA) is a federal law that permits employees to keep their health insurance and benefits after leaving their job. It applies to employers with at least 20 employees. In Illinois, mini-COBRA guarantees continuation coverage for a year except in cases of employee misconduct or gross negligence leading to termination.
  • Pregnancy Accommodation Laws – As per regulations, it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that their pregnant employees are provided with reasonable and suitable working conditions. This includes providing assistance with physically demanding tasks, making adjustments to their work schedule, and allowing for frequent restroom breaks.
  • Social Media Laws – In Illinois, employers must not request that workers or job applicants provide details about their personal social media profiles. Furthermore, it is against the law for an employer to require an employee to log into their private accounts in the presence of the employer or to force them to add certain business-related contacts to their accounts.
  • Telephone Monitoring Laws – It is permissible to monitor phone calls between employers and employees only if all parties involved are aware of the monitoring. This condition also applies to phone calls between employees, as long as the calls were made on company-provided devices and the employees are aware and have consented to the monitoring. Failure to comply with these regulations will result in both criminal and civil penalties.
  • Collecting Biometric Data Laws – In the year 2008, the Illinois state legislature enacted the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to give employees control over their biometric data and prevent companies from collecting such info. The act mandates written consent from employees for any biometric data collection required for work-related purposes, like logging in to a company app using a fingerprint ID. Types of biometric data covered by this act include fingerprints, hand scans, DNA, retina or iris scans, voice prints, and facial geometry.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – If you’re an employer operating in Illinois, it’s important to follow The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules and keep records of your employees for three years. The list is as follows: employee’s full name, social security number, occupation, date of birth, home address, gender, the regular hourly rate of pay, the basis for wages paid, total net wages and deductions, total gross daily or weekly wages, and date of each payment.

What are Illinois Payment Laws?

Let’s start by looking at the minimum wage requirement for hourly work. Non-tipped and tipped employees, as well as minor employees, have different minimum wage rates. In Illinois, employees must be compensated with minimum wage for up to 40 hours per week. While the federal government regulates wages through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), each state has the option to set a higher minimum wage than the federal rate of $7.25. This is the case for Illinois.  

What is the Minimum Payment in Illinois?

Illinois has a minimum wage requirement of $14.00 for each hour worked. An additional increase to $15.00 has already been announced for the upcoming year, 2025. It is prohibited for employers to offer a lower hourly rate than the minimum wage to non-exempt staff members.

Many professions, particularly in the hospitality industry, rely heavily on tips as a form of recognition for good service. These tips, which usually come in the form of cash, are given to employees such as servers, bartenders, waiters, and delivery people. In Illinois, the minimum wage for tipped employees is currently $8.40. However, if the tips combined with the wage base do not equal the regular minimum wage of $14.00, the employer is required to make up the difference. The tipped minimum wage will also increase to $9.00, beginning January 1, 2025. 

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Illinois?

There are various exempt positions from the minimum wage requirement, not just tipped employees. Employers can pay below the standard hourly minimum wage for White Collar employees, those working in agriculture and aquaculture, students, apprentices, trainees, those with disabilities, and minors working less than 650 hours per year. Employers with less than 4 employees who aren’t immediate family members are also exempt.

The subminimum wage, also known as the minimum wage for employed minors, applies to individuals under the age of 18 in order to prevent child labor exploitation. The current rate is $12, which will increase to $13 on January 1, 2025. This only applies to minor employees who work less than 650 hours per year. Employers must pay these employees at the regular minimum hourly rate or $14.00 if they exceed 650 hours worked annually.  

What is the Payment Due Date in Illinois?

Let’s take a look at what Illinois employers are required to do when it comes to paying their employees. Firstly, they must establish pay periods that occur semi-monthly. This means that employees must receive their compensation no later than 13 days after the end of a pay period. Employers are also obligated to provide an itemized statement of deductions for each pay period. Some exceptions do exist, however, as certain roles may be compensated on a monthly basis. These include executive, administrative, professional, and commission-based positions. If you’re an employee who believes they haven’t been paid fairly, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission either in person or online. Remember, all employees must be regularly and fairly compensated for their work.  

What are Illinois Overtime Laws?

According to federal and state law, any hours exceeding 40 hours in a week is considered overtime. This is because 40 hours is the standard requirement for full-time work. Employees who work over the limit are entitled to 1.5 times their regular rate, which for minimum wage workers is currently $21.00 per hour. However, employees must also have a minimum of 24 hours of rest in each calendar week. There are exceptions to the overtime requirement and not all employers are required to provide a compensation rate of 1.5. If you are based in Illinois, it is important to understand the exceptions to the overtime rule to verify if you are eligible for overtime compensation. For a deeper understanding of your overtime rights, read our detailed article on overtime rights in Illinois

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Illinois?

According to federal overtime requirements, there are four main types of White Collar employees that are not protected by the law and are exceptions to minimum wage rules. As long as they earn at least $684 per week, they do not need to receive 1.5 times their hourly pay rate for working beyond 40 hours. The four categories of White Collar employees include:

  • administration
  • executives
  • professionals
  • outside sales representatives.

Learn more in detail about Illinois Salaried Employees Laws and Illinois Overtime Laws.

Illinois Time Off/Break Laws

What are Illinois Meal-Break Laws?

In Illinois, employers must give their employees a meal break of 20 minutes or more if their shift lasts at least 7.5 hours. This break must be given before the employee has been working for 5 hours. If an employee works for double the amount of time, they are entitled to two meal breaks. However, minors are entitled to meal breaks for each 5-hour shift they work.

What are Illinois Breastfeeding Laws?

The law applies to new mothers who are still breastfeeding and working and is enforced federally. If the employer’s business is based in Illinois, they must provide appropriate accommodations for these employees. The break can be either paid or unpaid, as stated in the company’s policies. Adequate conditions involve a private space with a door, that is not a bathroom stall and is located as close as possible to the employee’s work area.  

What are Illinois Leave Laws?

Let’s take a look at what happens when an employee requests a leave of absence in Illinois. The state’s law mandates certain types of leave that employers must offer, but it does not dictate whether these absences should be paid or unpaid. The reason behind the request for leave is a key factor in determining the type of leave an employee is eligible for. It’s also important to note that employees who take a required leave should not face any negative consequences upon their return to work.  

What is Illinois Required Leave?

As an employee, you may be eligible for a leave of absence in certain situations. It’s important to note that you should not face any negative treatment upon returning to work. However, it’s up to the employer to decide whether the leave will be paid or unpaid. Here are the types of leave employers are required to offer:

  • Medical and Family Leave – In Illinois, all employers are required to offer medical and family leave. However, there are specific conditions to be met in order to be eligible. Employees must have worked for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours for a company of at least 50 employees to request this leave. Additionally, employees can be absent for up to 12 weeks every 12 months. There are several reasons that allow employees to request this leave, such as bonding with a new child, recuperating from a serious health condition, caring for a family member in poor health, dealing with exigencies arising from a family member’s military service, and caring for a family member who suffered a serious injury during active duty.
  • Blood Donation Leave – Illinois employers are obligated to provide their employees with an opportunity to donate blood by offering one hour of leave every 56 days. To qualify for this leave, an employee must have been under the employer’s supervision for a minimum of six months. The law only applies to businesses with more than 50 employees.
  • Bereavement Leave – It is mandated by law in Illinois that employers must provide bereavement leave to workers who have suffered the loss of a child. This leave can last up to 14 days and it is unpaid, but it does provide employees with the necessary time to handle funeral arrangements or to grieve their loss. This law is only applicable to businesses with over 50 employees.
  • School Leave – Parents who work can attend school-related activities if scheduling conflicts arise during the work day. This leave can last for up to 8 hours and is available to all eligible employees who are parents. However, it is important to note that this law only applies to companies with more than 50 employees.
  • Jury Duty Leave – If an employee from Illinois is asked to serve on a jury, their employer is obligated to let them take time off from work. It’s important to note that the law prohibits employers from firing an employee based on this circumstance. Additionally, if the employee serves on a jury during the day and has work scheduled for the night shift, they are not obligated to come in.
  • Voting Time Leave – To promote democratic participation, employers are required to grant their workers up to 2 hours of leave for voting. The eligible employees for this leave are those whose shift starts within 2 hours of the polls opening or ends within 2 hours of the polls closing. If employees want to take advantage of this leave, they must provide prior notice.
  • Military Leave – According to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act, all US employees must receive a leave of absence to serve or train in the US Armed Forces, National Guard, or state militia. The law also requires that upon their return, they receive the same pay and benefits as if they were present at work the entire time. Additionally, if the employee is unable to perform their previous duties due to injury, they must be provided with a qualified alternative position.
  • Family Military Leave – If an employee’s family member (spouse, parent, child, or grandchild) is called to military service for more than 30 days, they are qualified for family military leave. However, this leave is unpaid and limited to employers with at least 15 employees, lasting for up to 15 days. For companies with over 50 employees, the period can be extended up to 30 days.
  • Emergency Response Leave – Illinois state law safeguards employees who require time off to handle emergencies. Additionally, volunteer emergency workers are entitled to job protection and cannot be subjected to any form of punishment or disciplinary action.
  • Witness Leave – By law, employers must offer their employees who are called to appear in court as witnesses either paid or unpaid leave.
  • Crime Victim Leave – If an employee or their family/household member is a victim of a crime, the employer must provide paid or unpaid leave for them to attend proceedings related to the crime.
  • Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Leave – Companies are required to offer leave to employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence to allow them to deal with related issues such as medical treatment, relocation, and legal advice. The length of the leave depends on the size of the employer, ranging from up to four weeks for employers with up to 14 employees to up to twelve weeks for those with over 50 employees.

What is Illinois Non-Required Leave?

Illinois state law allows employers to choose whether or not to offer their employees sick, vacation, and holiday leave without any obligation to do so. There are no restrictions or prohibitions on these categories of leave. However, if an employer chooses to provide any or all of these leaves, the terms must be clearly stated in the employment contract.

  • Sick Leave – Illinois does not mandate employers to provide paid or unpaid sick days to their employees.
  • Vacation Leave – Employers are not obligated to offer vacation leave, but those who do can provide benefits based on the agreement between both parties. This agreement must be stated in the signed contract. Employers who offer vacation leave can implement a “use it or lose it” policy, which means employees must use their vacation days by a specific date.
  • Holiday Leave – Employers in Illinois are not obligated to provide their employees any holiday leave, whether paid or unpaid.

Here is a table of official federal holidays observed in Illinois:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Day after Thanksgiving Fourth Friday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

What are Illinois Child Labor Laws?

Child labor laws in Illinois apply to individuals under 18 years old, referred to as “minors.” These laws aim to prevent their exploitation and encourage them to prioritize their education while gaining valuable work experience. Minors must obtain a Work Permit from their school to be legally employed, and employers may request age certification for all individuals under age 20. Limitations on the maximum number of work hours, night work, and specific industries exist for minors. All minors, regardless of age, are prohibited from hazardous work. The state of Illinois has specific rules and regulations for child labor that should be followed.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Illinois?

In Illinois, there are specific rules in place for different age groups when it comes to employment. Here are some restrictions for minors: Those under 16 can only work a maximum of 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week when school is not in session, and only up to 3 hours per day and 24 hours per week when school is in session. Minors under 16 are also not allowed to work between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. (except in recreational or educational activities by a park district), while minors ages 16 and 17 have no night work restrictions. Additionally, there are industries where child labor is prohibited, such as working with power-driven machinery for minors under 16.  

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Illinois?

As we’ve previously discussed, under-age individuals are prohibited from taking on jobs that put them at risk. Let’s take a look at what are considered potentially dangerous roles in the state of Illinois.

The following activities are included in this list, some of which are deemed unsafe not only on a federal level but on a state level as well:

  • Working in oil refineries, gasoline blending plants, or pumping stations on oil transmission lines
  • Occupations where there’s exposure to radioactive substances.
  • Any construction-related work, including demolition and reconstruction
  • Working in or around a mine or quarry
  • Working in or around manufacturing plants that produce explosives
  • Working in or around sawmills or lathes
  • Jobs in establishments that serve alcoholic drinks
  • Working with weapons
  • Any jobs that involve the handling or storage of blood or bodily fluids/products/tissue.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.