woman in manufacturing facility

Illinois has adopted some of the most generous laws regarding employees’ wages and labor rights. As with many municipalities across the country, Chicago has enacted even stronger ordinances in these areas. Recent changes affecting employees’ days off from work, meal breaks, and other important protections have gone into effect. The Lore Law Firm breaks down some of these rules here.

The One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA)

This law governs meal periods and rest breaks for workers in the State of Illinois. It gives workers the right to one rest day every workweek as well as meal breaks during work shifts. Recent amendments affecting key aspects of ODRISA are effective as of January 1, 2023. The changes include:

Clarifying the one rest day per workweek requirement

Employers were already required to give employees at least one 24-hour rest break per week. Prior to the amendments, the rest periods were legally sufficient as long as they were given once within a “calendar week.” With the enacted changes, however, employers must provide their employees with a rest period within every consecutive seven-day period, regardless of which week the seven-day period begins or ends. There may be cases in which employees wish to work over the seven-day period without a 24-hour rest break, but employers must seek a waiver from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) to allow this.

Rights to additional meal periods

Under ODRISA, Illinois has long required that employers provide an unpaid 20-minute lunch break (also known as a meal period) within the first 5 hours to all employees who work at least 7.5 hours per day. The updates to the law now require that employers allow an additional 20-minute lunch break to all employees who work a 12-hour shift or longer. Reasonable time to use the restroom facilities does not count as a lunch break or meal period under the updated law.

Notice requirements

Employers must also post a notice provided by the IDOL that summarizes ODRISA’s requirements and instructs employees on filing a complaint for any violations. As for remote employees, notice may be sent to them by email or by posting it on the employer’s website.

Increased penalties for employer violations

The changes to ODRISA greatly increase the penalties for violations of the law. The amount of the penalty will depend on the size of the employer:

  • For employers with fewer than 25 employees, the employer can be required to pay both a $250 penalty to the employee for each offense as well as a $250 penalty to the IDOL for each offense
  • For employers with 25 or more employees, these penalties increase to $500 to the employee and $500 to the IDOL

Violations of the meal break requirement and the one rest day per workweek requirement are treated as separate offenses. 

Changes to the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance

Chicago’s Fair Workweek Ordinance applies to certain employers:

  • Those whose businesses are in seven “covered” industries (Building Services, Healthcare, Hotels, Manufacturing, Restaurants, Retail, and Warehouse Services);
  • With at least 100 employees globally (250 employees and 30 locations for a restaurant); and
  • Whose employees earn less than or equal to $29.35/hour or earn less than or equal to $56,381.85/year

The objective of this law is to provide a predictable workweek to employees. Covered employees are entitled to:

  • Advance notice of their work schedules (notice of 14 days, beginning July 1, 2022)
  • The right to decline previously unscheduled hours
  • 1 hour of Predictability Pay for any shift change that occurs within 10 days
  • The right to rest by declining work hours less than 10 hours after the end of the previous day’s shift

Together, the laws of Illinois and Chicago allow employees more rest and greater predictability with their hours. If you have questions about your wage and labor rights in Illinois or Chicago, The Lore Law Firm invites you to fill out our confidential client intake form for a free case review.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.