Illinois Employment Law Changes Effective January 1

Illinois Employment Law Changes Effective January 1

The new year brings updates to Illinois laws affecting wages, scheduling, and unpaid bereavement leave for covered employees.

Minimum Wage Increases

Following a schedule established by legislation in 2019, the state-wide minimum wage increases January 1, 2023 to $13 per hour for non-tipped employees ages 18 and over. Tipped workers may be paid 60% of the hourly minimum wage, or $7.80, as long as they receive the difference in tips. Employees under age 18 who work less than 650 hours/year will see a minimum wage increase to $10.50 per hour; workers under 18 who work more than 650 hours/year must be paid at the same rate as an employee over 18.

For employers in suburban Cook County, the minimum wage for non-tipped employees rose to $13.35 in July 2022. However, Northbrook and some other communities have invoked their home rule authority to opt out of the county minimum wage standards. Under the state schedule, the minimum wage will increase to $14 at the start of 2024 and $15 in 2025.

Day of Rest and Meal Break Requirements

Under the pre-existing Illinois One Day of Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA), covered employees are entitled to a “minimum of twenty-four-hours of rest in each calendar week.”  Starting January 1, the language of the act changed to employees having at least 24-hours of rest every consecutive seven day-period. In other words, the law now applies to anyone who works for six consecutive days, regardless of whether the employee’s schedule aligns with a Sunday-Saturday work week.

Meal breaks are also affected by the amendments to the ODRISA law.  Previously, the law provided employees “a meal period of 20 minutes for every 7.5 hour shift beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the shift.” In 2023, the language is changed to say that employees “who work in excess of 7 1/2 continuous hours shall be entitled to an additional 20-minute meal period for every additional 4 1/2 continuous hours worked.” That means workers who work 12-hour shifts are entitled to two meal periods.

Certain employees are exempt from ODRISA standards, including those in executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, or supervisory capacities as well as part-timers working 20 hours or less in a calendar week. As of January 1, workers covered by collective bargaining agreements are also exempt from ODRISA coverage.

Bereavement Leave

Changes to the former Child Bereavement Leave Act – now called the Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) – expand the circumstances that entitle covered employees to a period of unpaid leave. The law applies to employers (including public employers) with at least 50 employees and employees who have worked for such employers for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours in the preceding 12-month period. Workers must be allowed up to 10 workdays of unpaid leave if they are attending the funeral of a covered family member, including “an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.”  In addition, employees are entitled to bereavement leave for pregnancy loss, failed adoptions or surrogacy agreements, unsuccessful reproductive procedures, and other occurrences detailed in the legislation.

Helpful resources on these changes to Illinois employment law include:

Illinois Department of Labor Minimum Wage FAQ

Illinois Department of Labor ODRISA update summary

Synopsis of Family Bereavement Leave Act