Table of contents
  1. Wage and Hour Laws
  2. Employee Compensation and Benefits
  3. Workplace Rights and Protections
  4. Child Labor Laws
  5. Workplace Safety and Health
  6. Labor Union Regulations
  7. Employment Contracts and Severance
  8. Additional Laws That Might Apply to You
  9. Navigating Legal Issues and Resources
  10. Disclaimer

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Wage and Hour Laws

Minimum Wage

The required minimum wage in Illinois has been set to increase each year since 2020. As of 2023, the minimum wage for employees aged 18 or over is $13 per hour.

This will increase in 2024 to $14 per hour and increase again in 2025 to $15 per hour.

Chicago applies its own minimum wage requirements for businesses operating in the city. 

As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage in Chicago is $15.80 per hour for employers with 21 or more workers and $15.00 per hour for employers with 4 to 20 workers. Employers with fewer than 4 workers are subject to ‌statewide minimum wage requirements. 

Tipped Minimum Wage

The tipped minimum wage in Illinois is $7.80 per hour in 2023

This increases in line with the state minimum wage and equals 60% of the state minimum wage. Employers are eligible for a maximum tip allowance of 40% but must be able to show that the employee received the minimum wage when the tip allowance and employer-paid wages are combined. 

Equal Pay Reporting

Under the Illinois Equal Pay Act, employers with at least 100 employees in Illinois that file an Annual Employer Information Report (EEO-1) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) must apply to the Illinois Department of Labor to receive an Equal Pay Registration Certificate

The application will require businesses to share the following:

  • The employer’s most recent EEO-1 report.
  • A list of all employees from the last calendar year, separated by the characteristics included on an EEO-1 statement
  • Details of each employee, including the employee’s place of work, start date, hours worked, and total wages.

Employers will be assigned a due date and be notified by the Illinois Department of Labor at least 120 days before the application is due. Recertification is required every 2 years. 

Meal Breaks

Meal breaks are required in Illinois. 2023 amendments to the One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) expanded entitlements to these breaks.

Illinois employees who work a shift of 7.5 continuous hours are entitled to a meal break of at least 20 minutes. The meal break must be given no later than 5 hours after the shift started.

The 2023 ODRISA amendments add a requirement that employees working more than 7.5 hours in their shift are entitled to an additional 20-minute meal break for every additional 4.5 hours worked. 

The amendments also clarified that meal breaks may not include reasonable time spent using the restroom.

Rest Breaks

Illinois does not mandate rest breaks during work shifts (other than meal breaks, covered above). Employees must be paid only for hours worked, so employers that opt to provide rest breaks are not required to pay for break time.

Employers are required to provide reasonable break time to breastfeeding employees for the purpose of expressing breast milk for an infant. This requirement remains in place for 1 year after the child’s birth. The break can run concurrently with regular break time, but employers may not reduce employee compensation if the employee reasonably needs more time for this purpose. 

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Employee Scheduling Laws

Under Illinois labor laws, breaks in scheduling must be granted to employees for each 7 days of work. The Illinois One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) prohibits employers from scheduling employees to work 7 consecutive days. 

ODRISA compliance calculations changed in 2023, and penalties for noncompliance have increased. Employees must now be given at least 24 hours of consecutive rest for each consecutive 7-day period. At least 1 day of rest is required every 7 days. 

Each non-compliant 7-day period counts as a separate violation for the purposes of calculating penalties.   


Under the Illinois Equal Pay Act, employers with 4 or more employees must maintain employment records for at least 5 years

Records must include the following:

  • Employee name and address
  • Occupation of the employee
  • Wages paid to the employee
  • Any other compensation provided to the employee
  • Date of hire
  • Date(s) of promotion
  • Date(s) of pay increases
  • Dates of all compensation provided
  • Payroll records

Employee Compensation and Benefits

Overtime Laws

Illinois overtime law mimics the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements to pay overtime when employees work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Overtime is paid at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s standard hourly rate. 

There are some exe‌mptions to overtime regulations. These include agricultural labor workers, some vehicle sales or service-based roles, and employees of certain non-profit childcare institutions.

Mandatory overtime is allowed in Illinois, as long as the hours worked don’t result in the employee working 7 or more consecutive days without 24 hours of rest.

Reporting Time Pay

Illinois employers are required to pay employees only for hours they’ve actually worked. 

Illinois labor laws do not require employers to pay employees when they report to work if no work is performed. Employers are also not required to pay a minimum number of hours if the employee is sent home early. 

Payday Frequency and Method

Employees who are non-exempt under the FLSA must be paid at least semi-monthly. Wages must be paid no later than 13 days after the pay period in which the work was performed. 

FLSA-exempt employees must be paid at least once per month.

Earned commissions must be paid at least once per month for both exempt and non-exempt employees. 

The default method for issuing payment to employees is with a check. Employees may opt-in to either receive pay via direct deposit or through an authorized payroll card. 

Pay Stub Requirements

Employers must provide employees with a pay stub that includes the following:

  • Hours worked
  • Rate of pay
  • Overtime hours
  • Overtime pay
  • Gross wages
  • Itemized deductions
  • All wages and deductions for the year to date

Pay stubs can be delivered on paper or electronically. There is no requirement for employees to consent to electronic pay stubs. 

Wage Deductions and Garnishments

Employers can make deductions or garnish employee wages only for limited purposes. These include:

  • Deductions required by law (such as taxes).
  • Employee benefits (such as insurance premiums or union dues).
  • Complying with a valid wage order made with the employee’s consent (such as a cash advance).

Any withholding of compensation requires the employee’s express written consent at the time the deduction is made.

Employers cannot deduct from final pay or withhold final pay when employees fail to return work equipment or fail to give separation notice. An employee that accepts pay with deductions is still able to file a claim for improper wage deductions.  

Final Paycheck Laws

Illinois law requires final payments to be made no later than the next regularly scheduled payday for the employee. Final pay includes regular wages, earned bonuses or commissions, and accrued vacation pay.

Payment can be made by any agreed method, including direct deposit. However, the law requires final compensation to be paid by mailed check if the employee requests this.

Employers who fail to accurately pay departing employees may be subject to additional damages and penalties. Damages are payable to the employee and are equal to 5% of the underpayment per month for each month during which the final pay remains unpaid. 

Additionally, the Illinois Department of Labor may order an employer to pay administrative fees between $250 and $1,000 when they’re issued a demand to pay final compensation to an employee. 

Workers’ Compensation

Illinois requires all businesses with employees to have workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of how many people they employ.

Businesses can purchase insurance directly through a provider, or they can apply through the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) for permission to self-insure. 

Employers without workers’ compensation insurance can be fined up to $500 per day. Additionally, corporate officers can be held individually liable if the business fails to pay outstanding penalties.

There are 6 types of workers’ compensation benefits available:

  • Medical cover, for treatment of a workplace injury or illness.
  • Temporary total disability benefits, for recovering employees who are off work entirely due to a workplace injury or illness.
  • Temporary partial disability benefits, for employees who are able to work light duty or reduced hours while they recover from a workplace injury or illness.
  • Permanent total disability benefits, for employees who are permanently unable to work due to a workplace injury or illness.
  • Permanent partial disability benefits, for employees who can work following a workplace injury or illness but now have a permanent disability.
  • Survivor benefits, for family members of an employee who died as a result of a workplace injury or illness.

The specific benefits available to an employee will depend on the employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Employers must post a notice in each workplace that lists the insurance provider and explains employee rights.

Employees must report workplace injury or illness to their employer within 45 days. Employers are obligated to report any accidents that result in more than 3 days of lost work to the IWCC. 

The IWCC also resolves workers’ compensation disputes between employees and employers. Claims are initially heard by an arbitrator, whose decision is reviewed by a panel of 3 commissioners. Cases may be appealed through the state court system. 

Unemployment Insurance

All employers who have employees working in Illinois will need to pay Illinois unemployment insurance tax. 

An unemployment insurance tax account must be established with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) within 30 days of starting business as an employer.

Unemployment insurance tax is calculated as a percentage of employee wages. The tax rate changes annually, and current rates are published by IDES. The tax rates for 2023 range from 0.85% to 8.65%.

Unemployment tax reports and payments are due on a quarterly basis, with the following due dates each year:

  • April 30 – 1st quarter returns and payments due
  • July 31 – 2nd quarter returns and payments due
  • October 31 – 3rd quarter returns and payments due
  • January 31 – 4th quarter returns and payments due

Due dates falling on a weekend or holiday are extended to the next business day.

To be eligible for unemployment benefits, an employee must:

  • Have been dismissed from work through no fault of their own.
  • Be a resident of Illinois.
  • Have worked in Illinois during the past 12 months.
  • Have generated at least $1,600 of income during a recent 12-month period.
  • Be able and available to find work.

An employee who quit without good cause or was terminated for misconduct is generally not eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Approved unemployment claims are paid weekly. Benefits are taxable and capped at 47% of the statewide average weekly wage for the year. Maximum rates for 2023 are:

  • $578 per week for workers with no dependents.
  • $688 per week for workers with a non-working dependent spouse. 
  • $787 per week for workers with dependent children.

A claim for unemployment benefits can be filed online through IDES. Eligible workers can claim unemployment benefits for up to a maximum of 26 full weeks in a 1-year period. 

Workplace Rights and Protections

Discrimination and Harassment

The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment based on any of the following:

  • Actual or perceived race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Ancestry
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Order of protection status
  • Disability
  • Military status or discharge from service
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy
  • Citizenship status
  • Work authorization status

The IHRA was amended in 2023 to include new language related to workplace harassment and discrimination.

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Effective January 1, 2023, the CROWN Act modified the definition of “race” under the IHRA to include traits associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists. Discriminatory actions based on traits associated with race are treated the same as any other race-based discrimination.

Employers are responsible for preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The employer is also responsible for acts of discrimination or harassment by supervisory employees. Discrimination or harassment by a non-supervisory employee can be attributed to the employer if the employer became aware of the discrimination or harassment and did not take action.

All employers are required to provide annual sexual harassment training to employees. A model sexual harassment training curriculum and routine courses are available from the Illinois Department of Human Rights

Additional sexual harassment prevention policies and training requirements are placed on restaurants and bars. These businesses must establish a written sexual harassment prevention policy and provide a copy to all employees. 

Supplemental training is also required for employees in restaurants and bars. A model training curriculum for the supplemental training is available from the Illinois Department of Human Rights

The Illinois sexual harassment training curriculum meets the requirements for sexual harassment prevention training for employees.

The City of Chicago has adopted an enhanced definition of sexual harassment and requires employers to provide training beyond what’s required in the rest of the state. The following training must be completed annually:

  • Sexual harassment prevention training: 1 hour for non-supervisory employees and 2 hours for managers and supervisors
  • Bystander training: 1 hour for all employees.

By June 30, 2023, all employers must provide this training to all employees. 

Employees who believe they have been discriminated against in their employment can file an employment charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Discrimination charges must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination. 

Leave Laws

Leave TypeCovered by Illinois Law?Leave Law Details
Paid General LeaveYes (2024)Illinois has adopted the Paid Leave for All Workers Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2024.
This will require employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per 12-month period. 
Paid leave can be used for any reason, and employees will not be required to provide documentation in order to take paid leave.
Family and Medical LeaveNoIllinois does not have legal requirements to provide family and medical leave, but follows the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 
FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide unpaid leave for eligible employees.
Paid Sick LeaveYesIllinois employers outside of Chicago are not obligated to provide paid sick leave benefits. However, employers who choose to offer paid sick leave may be required to allow employees to use this benefit under the Employee Sick Leave Act. 
The Employee Sick Leave Act requires employers to let employees use accrued sick leave time to care for certain relatives. Qualifying relatives include the employee’s: Child.Spouse or domestic partner.Sibling.Parent.Mother-in-law.Father-in-law.Grandchild.Grandparent.Stepparent.
The law also prohibits retaliation against an employee who takes sick leave to care for a relative. This law does not require employers to provide personal sick leave benefits to employees if they do not already offer it. 
Chicago’s Paid Sick Leave ordinance requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. Employees are eligible for paid sick leave under the ordinance if they work at least 80 hours for an employer in Chicago within a 120-day period. Employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
Paid Family LeaveNoEmployers are not required to offer paid family leave. Unpaid employee leave related to childbirth may be protected under FMLA. 
Family Bereavement LeaveYesThe Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) went into effect on January 1, 2023.
Under the FBLA, employers with 50 or more employees must grant unpaid leave in the event of any of the following:
Death of a covered family memberStillbirthMiscarriageUnsuccessful reproductive procedureFailed adoptionFailed surrogacy agreementDiagnosis that negatively impacts pregnancy or fertility
The affected employee is entitled to up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave. A maximum of 6 weeks is allowed during a 12-month period if the employee experiences multiple qualifying events.
Employees must give at least 48 hours’ notice before taking family bereavement leave. They must complete the leave no later than 60 days from the qualifying event.
Employers can request that employees provide reasonable documentation to support the family bereavement leave. This may include an obituary or death certificate in the event of a death. For fertility or pregnancy-related leave, the Illinois Department of Labor has created a leave form to be certified by a healthcare practitioner or adoption organization.
Military LeaveYesThe Illinois Service Member Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (ISERRA) expands upon federal military leave protections. These protections include:
Expanding the definition of military service to include service in an auxiliary of the US Armed Forces as well as service in the Illinois State Guard.Requiring performance reviews to meet or exceed the average rating the employee held during the last rating period before they went on military leave. Employees cannot be given a lower performance rating than what they held prior to military leave.Negating any statute of limitations for claims under ISERRA and expanding potential damages.Creating an ISERRA advocate to assist service members and employers.Requiring employers to post notice of employee rights under ISERRA.
ISERRA applies to employers in Illinois regardless of size. 
Jury Duty LeaveYesEmployers are required to provide unpaid time off for an employee to report to jury selection or jury duty. Employers can require that employees provide their jury summons before approving the leave. 
Pregnancy and Parental LeaveNoEmployers are not required to offer parental leave or pregnancy leave. Unpaid employee leave related to childbirth may be protected under FMLA
Vacation and Personal LeaveNoEmployers are not required to offer vacation or personal leave but must follow their policies when they choose to offer such leave.
Employers cannot adopt a policy requiring employees to forfeit earned vacation time when they separate from the company. The employer must pay out any accrued but unused vacation time if the employer’s policy or the employee’s contract provides for paid vacation. 

Child Labor Laws

The Illinois Child Labor Law regulates employment for workers under the age of 16. Employment is generally prohibited for children under the age of 13, except for narrow exemptions related to child performers and volunteer work. Children who are 13 or older may be employed as golf caddies. 

Children between 14 and 16 years of age are restricted from 26 hazardous occupations, such as sawmills, hazardous manufacturing, or oil refinery jobs. They’re also restricted by the time of day and number of hours that can be worked. 

Children under 16 may not work:

  • Before 7 am.
  • After 7 pm between Labor Day and June 1.
  • After 9 pm, June 1 through Labor Day.
  • More than 8 hours per day when combining school and work hours.
  • More than 6 consecutive days in a week.
  • More than 48 hours in a non-school week.
  • More than 3 hours on a school day.
  • More than 24 hours in a school week.

Before a child under 16 may be employed, they must obtain an employment certificate from their school district. The application for this certificate must include an employer statement detailing the nature of employment and the exact hours and days the child will be employed. 

Approved applications will result in an employment certificate issued to the employer. The certificate must be retained by the employer throughout the child’s employment. 

Employers, parents, guardians, or custodians who violate the law may be fined up to $5,000 and subject to criminal penalties. 

Workplace Safety and Health

Illinois extends state occupational safety and health law only to public sector employers, such as government agencies. 

Private employers are covered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The OSH Act has extensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements, all of which apply in Illinois. 

Employees can report workplace safety or health violations online or contact one of the OSHA offices in Illinois.

Labor Union Regulations

Illinois is not a right-to-work state. This means that employment in some workplaces may require an employee to join the representative labor union for that workplace. Payment of union dues can be a requirement for employment. An employee who refuses to join the union or fails to pay union dues may be terminated or lose a job offer.

Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against employers for their union membership or any reasonable associated activities.

Employment Contracts and Severance

Employment Contract Laws

Illinois is an “at-will” employment state. Employment can be terminated by the employer or the employee at any time, without stating a reason. 

The “at-will” rule does not apply if employers and employees agree to different terms in an employment contract. This includes employees whose work is subject to a collective bargaining agreement

Employment contracts can be written, oral, or implied. An implied contract arises when an employer’s actions lead to reasonable expectations, such as when an employment policy states employees will be terminated only following set disciplinary steps. 

Non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are legal in Illinois but subject to significant limitations:

  • Employers must advise the employee in writing to consult an attorney before agreeing.
  • Employees must be given at least 14 days to review the agreement.
  • Non-compete agreements cannot be used if the employee earns less than $75,000 per year.
  • Non-solicitation agreements cannot be used if the employee earns less than $45,000 per year.
  • Employers cannot enforce non-compete or non-solicitation agreements against employees who are terminated, furloughed, or laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional restrictions exist for limited types of employment in construction, broadcasting, and nursing staffing agencies.

Severance Pay

Employers in Illinois are not required by law to offer employees severance pay when terminating employment. Employees should refer to their employee policies for guidance on severance pay.

Additional Laws That Might Apply to You

Gun Laws

An employer who wishes to prohibit employees from bringing firearms to work must post a conspicuous sign stating this at the building entrance.

Employers cannot prevent employees from storing their firearms or ammunition in the employee parking lot if they hold a concealed carry permit. These items must be stored out of view in a locked vehicle.

Whistleblower Protection

Employers may not adopt policies that prevent employees from disclosing potential legal violations to the government or a law enforcement agency. 

Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who discloses information they had reasonable cause to believe was evidence of a violation.

Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act

Employers who use artificial intelligence technology to conduct hiring interviews must take the following steps:

  • Notify the applicant that artificial intelligence will be used to analyze their interview.
  • Provide an explanation to the applicant of how ‌artificial intelligence works.
  • Obtain applicant consent prior to the artificial intelligence review.
  • Delete the interview upon the applicant’s request and instruct anyone who received a copy of the video interview to delete the copy within 30 days.
  • Collect and report demographic data about applicants to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Smoke-Free Illinois Act

This law prohibits smoking in workplaces and public spaces. Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of any entrance to a place of employment.

Recreational Drug Use

Illinois has legalized recreational marijuana for individuals aged 21 or older. Employers cannot take disciplinary action against an employee based on lawful use of marijuana outside of work. 

However, employers can prohibit employees from using marijuana at work, while performing job duties, or while on call. 

A drug-free workplace policy is permitted as long as the policy is not applied in a discriminatory manner.  

Illinois and all cities in the state have removed all requirements for mask-wearing, gatherings, and proof of vaccination. 

Individual businesses may still require proof of vaccination if they wish to do so. 

Illinois enforced the federal requirement that all international travelers who are not US citizens provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination. This requirement was lifted effective May 12, 2023.

Illinois hosts a range of government agencies that provide employment guides and resources to employees and employers. These agencies include:

Legal Aid also provides guidance and free legal advice to Illinois workers. 

In addition to the labor laws in Illinois discussed above, federal and local laws can also apply to employers and employees. These laws may sometimes be contradictory. Speaking to an attorney about your specific obligations as an employer, or your rights as an employee, is the best way to ensure accurate information for your situation. 


The information presented on this website about Illinois labor laws is intended to be accurate and informative. However, laws and regulations can change and may vary depending on individual circumstances. While we have made every effort to ensure the information provided is up-to-date and reliable, we cannot guarantee its completeness or accuracy. Therefore, we strongly recommend that readers seek guidance from their legal department or a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Please note that we cannot be held liable for any actions taken or not taken based on the information presented on this website.

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