Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Breaks From Work and Illinois Law
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If your employer schedules you to work more than six days in any given week, they might be violating the law. Illinois labor law requires all employers to give workers one “day of rest” – meaning 24 hours of consecutive time off – in every seven-day week. This is in addition to the time off at the end of each work day. In other words, if you end work at noon on Tuesday and have to be back for your next shift at noon on Wednesday, it doesn’t count as your day of rest – even though you were off for 24 hours, you worked both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Employers can get a permit that allows them to schedule an employee on the seventh day. This must be voluntary – the employee has to agree to work the extra day. A permit is only allowed for up to 8 weeks out of the year. Employers also are required to keep a record of all employees and the hours they work – these records are subject to inspection at any time. Employers face prosecution and fines for violating this law.
Although the day of rest law applies to all employers, it does not apply to all employees. If you work part time (20 hours or less per week), the law does not apply to you. There are a few other exceptions, including coal miners, agriculture workers, security guards, and those who are considered “executive, administrative, or professional” (generally salaried employees).
In addition to the day of rest, every employer must allow 20 minutes of unpaid meal time for every employee working 7 ½ hours or more. The meal time must begin no later than 5 hours into the work period. There is an exception where the employee is in a position that requires them to be on call – such as someone who monitors individuals with mental illness. If you have a position like this, you do not have to be given the meal period, but you must be allowed to eat on the job.
There is no law in Illinois requiring employee breaks beyond the meal period. The only exception is for the hotel industry: In Cook County, hotel attendants who work at least 7 hours get two 15-minute paid breaks and one 30-minute unpaid meal time.
If your employer requires you to work more than six days in seven, or does not allow you the meal time to which you are entitled, they may be breaking the law – and taking advantage of you as an employee. An experienced labor and employment attorney can help you understand your rights, and assist you in taking any necessary action.
If your employer is violating the law and you want an attorney referral or if you just have general questions about the law please do not hesitate to contact us at (312) 346-5320and we will try to help you. We are based in Chicago, but help people with wage and employment questions throughout Illinois.