Guide to Illinois Labor Laws About Breaks
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act sets break requirements for employers and employees. Most people don't realize that federal requirements do not require employers to give employees any breaks at all. The State of Illinois, however, has some break requirements. To understand IL labor laws about breaks, you'll need to know about meal breaks, coffee breaks, and the state's “one day in seven” law. This guide will explain these laws so you will know if your employer is violating Illinois labor laws about breaks.
Coffee and Rest Breaks
Many employees are surprised to learn that IL labor laws about breaks do not require employers to provide any kind of coffee or rest break for employees, except in one very narrow instance. Some employees in Cook County may have two 15 minute breaks required by Illinois labor laws about breaks, but only if they work as hotel room attendants.
If your employer does give coffee or rest breaks, IL labor laws about breaks specify that these short breaks must be paid. Your employer is also required by Illinois labor laws about breaks, as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to give you reasonable bathroom breaks during your work day. If your employer is not allowing you to have adequate restroom breaks (including if you have a medical condition that makes frequent bathroom breaks necessary), you may want to speak to an employment attorney who has experience with IL labor laws about breaks.
While federal employment laws do not require employers to provide meal breaks, Illinois labor laws about breaks require them for all employees who work a shift longer than 7.5 hours. If you work more than 7.5 hours in your shift, IL labor laws about breaks require that you be given a meal break of at least 20 minutes. You are not required to be paid for this break according to Illinois labor laws about breaks.
In some cases, your employer may have a union contract or an individual employment agreement with employees that specifies a longer meal break. In these situations, your employment contract will dictate your meal breaks, rather than Illinois laws about breaks.
One Day In Seven Breaks
In order to ensure that employees receive adequate time off, IL labor laws about breaks also include a requirement for employers to give all employees one 24 hour day off every week. This day can be any day of the week (whether weekday or weekend). In some situations, employers can obtain an exemption from this law. The state only grants these exemptions to Illinois labor laws about breaks when an employer can demonstrate that employees are working seven-day weeks voluntarily.
If your employer is violating IL labor laws about breaks, you may be able to obtain compensation. Talking to an Illinois employment attorney can help you understand your legal options and what you could expect from pursuing a court case against a current or former employer.