As its name implies, The Illinois law called the One Day Rest in Seven Act mandates that employees get at least 24 hours of rest in every calendar week. A calendar week is currently defined as seven consecutive 24-hour periods starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning and ending at midnight the following Saturday. In addition, and with some limited exceptions, the Act currently requires employers to provide employees who work for 7.5 continuous hours or longer a meal period of at least 20 minutes. These meal breaks must begin no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period.
Employers may apply for permits from the Illinois Department of Labor for exemptions from the Act, with a relaxed standard for up to eight weeks, and a more stringent standard after eight weeks. In either case though, the employees who work seven days a week must be volunteers, and the employer must document them as such.
On May 13, 2022, Governor Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Act, which addresses both the day of rest and meal break requirements for employees.
“The changes will strengthen the One Day Rest in Seven Act and reflect the ongoing mission of the Illinois Department of Labor to protect the rights, wages, and working conditions for people in Illinois,” said Illinois Department of Labor Acting Director Jane Flanagan.
The amendments take effect January 1, 2023, but employers should begin ensuring their policies and practices will comply with these changes, including:
- The amendments revise the interval at which employees must receive a day off. Currently, employees need only be provided one day of rest within any given calendar week. Thus, an employer is compliant if it schedules an employee to get Sunday off in week one, work the next 12 days, and then have the following Saturday off, as the employee would not work seven days in either calendar week. Under the amendments, however, the employee must be given one day of rest in “every consecutive seven-day period.”
- The amendments provide for a 20-minute meal break for the first 7.5 hours worked, and then another 20-minute break for each additional 4.5-hour period worked after this initial 7.5-hour period. The current version of the Act and regulations say that a second meal break is only provided for every additional 7.5-hour period. In other words, currently, an employee must be scheduled to work 15 hours to be eligible for a second meal period. Beginning on January 1, 2023, that amount will be reduced to 12 hours.
- Penalties for violations will increase. Currently, a violation of the Act is punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $100 for each offense. Under the amendments, an employer that violates the Act will be subject to a civil penalty, which for employers of fewer than 25 employees may not exceed $250 per offense, and for employers of 25 employees or more, may not exceed $500 per offense. Further, an employer will also be required to pay damages to affected employees, up to $250 for employers of fewer than 25 employees, and up to $500 for employers of 25 or more employees.
- The amendments require employers must post a notice of rights under the Act. The notice requirement will expressly apply to remote workers and can be provided by email or on a website that all employees are able to regularly access, freely and without interference. Failure to provide the notice will be deemed a civil offense subject to a penalty not to exceed $250, but no damages are available to affected employees. The Illinois Department of Labor will provide this required notice on its website for employers to download and post.
Key Takeaways for Illinois Employers
- Review your policies to make sure you comply with the changes to the Act effective January 1, 2023.
- Consider how you provide meal breaks, whether you permit waivers of meal breaks, and how you document those waivers.
- Post a notice at the workplace to notify employees of their rights under this Act.