Illinois Break Laws

April 12th 2024

It is of crucial importance to take a break during a work day to maintain a state of well-being, especially if it entails long working hours. Furthermore, resting well may also be pivotal in allowing employers to rest and reset before jumping back into their work. 

This guide aims to provide a comprehensive summary of break laws in Illinois, helping both employers and employees understand their break law and their rights. 

This article covers:

Meal Break Laws in Illinois

In Illinois, a shift lasting 7.5 hours or more entitles employees to a meal break of 20 minutes. The meal break must be taken not more than five hours after the employee has initiated work. If an employee works for more than 10 hours, they are entitled to two meal breaks, with a minimum of 20 minutes each. If they work through their meal break, they must be paid.

Minor Break Laws in Illinois

Minors must receive a 30-minute meal break no longer than five hours after the workday starts. A 12-hour turnaround rest break at the end of the workday and before the commencement of their next work or school day must also be provided.

Breastfeeding Laws in Illinois

For new mothers who are breastfeeding and working, a federally enforced law states that appropriate accommodations must be provided for these employees, which include private non-bathroom areas with adequate privacy from intrusion from the public or co-workers. According to item (J) of Section 2-102 of the Illinois Human Rights Act, an employer may not reduce an employee’s compensation for time used to express milk or nurse a baby.

Pregnant Employee Break Laws in Illinois

According to the Pregnancy Rights in Illinois, employers are required to make reasonable and nondiscriminatory accommodations for pregnant employees. This includes breaks to address pregnancy-related needs, including but not limited to bathroom breaks and short rest periods to prevent overexertion. Failure to accommodate reasonable pregnancy-related accommodations is specifically prohibited under the Act.

Hotel Room Attendant Break Laws in Illinois

Hotel room attendants in Illinois are entitled to two 15-minute paid rest breaks and one 30-minute meal period for every 7 hours worked. Employers in Illinois must also provide employees with a break area where employees can rest and free, clean drinking water. Hotel room attendants must be relieved from all their duties during their rest and meal breaks.

The coverage of the hotel room attendants applies only to hotels located in a county with a population greater than three million.

One Day in Seven Break Laws in Illinois

Under the One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA), it is required for employers to give all employees one 24-hour day off every week. This can be any day of the week, regardless of weekday or weekend, as long as it is within seven consecutive days. However, in some situations, employers can obtain an exemption from this law if there is an emergency or a desperate situation. The employer must obtain a waiver from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) granting permission for their employees to work for seven consecutive days.

Employers may also gain an exception for this law if they can demonstrate that their employees are working a 7-day work week voluntarily.

However, this requirement does not apply to employees whose meal periods, work days, and rest days are governed by collective bargaining agreements.

Penalties for Violating Break Laws in Illinois

Employers violating break laws may also face penalties and fines imposed by the IDOL. Depending on the severity and nature of the violation, these fines may be significantly substantial. If break rights are believed to be violated, employees can file a complaint or lawsuit against their employers.

Employers with fewer than 25 employees violating the ODRISA face a penalty for not providing a meal break or day off of up to $250 per offense to the employee and up to $250 per offense to the Department as well.

For employers with more than 25 employees, the penalty is bumped up to $500 per offense to the employee and up to $500 per offense to the Department. Each day that a meal break and 24 hours off within seven consecutive days are not provided is a separate offense per employee.

Learn more about Illinois Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

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.