What are Illinois Overtime Laws?
Illinois’ minimum wage law requires hourly employees 18 and older to be paid at least $8.25 per hour. Those who work more than 40 hours in a week might be entitled to overtime pay. Minimum overtime rate is time-and-a-half, or 150 percent of the regular wage.
Overtime pay laws are often misunderstood and some employers use illegal practices to avoid paying overtime. It is important to know how overtime pay is defined, if you qualify for that overtime pay, and what to do if your employer is not complying with the law.
What is Considered Overtime?
Overtime is based on a single workweek of 40 hours, firmly established in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). That workweek covers 7 consecutive calendar days, usually but not always from Sunday through Saturday. Working more than 8 hours in a single day is not considered overtime.
But employers may not average out work done over a series of weeks to deny overtime. For example, if you work 35 hours one week and 45 the following week, the employer may not treat those as two 40-hour weeks and must pay overtime for the 5 hours beyond 40.
Employers are not required by law to pay overtime rates for weekend or holiday work unless that results in working over 40 hours in a week. They can, however, mandate workers to put in overtime, as long as the extra work does not violate Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act. That law provides for at least 24 hours of rest every calendar week.
Any time devoted to job-related activities is considered work, and should be compensated as such. Workers should be aware of the actions employers sometimes take to avoid paying for rightfully earned overtime:
– Offering paid time off, commonly known as “comp time,” in lieu of overtime pay.
– Asking employees to treat tasks such as setup or cleanup, or staying for an after-hours meeting, as “off-the-clock.”
– Expecting employees to complete a timesheet showing 8 hours per day, regardless of actual time worked.
– Wrongly classifying employees as independent contractors.
– Not paying for time spent in required training.
– Requiring employees to do work at home, be on call, or work through lunch.
Who is Eligible for Overtime Pay?
Non-exempt workers are eligible to receive overtime pay. Typically, these are employees who receive an hourly rate for their work and complete a timesheet documenting those hours.
Not all workers are eligible for overtime pay. Among those normally exempt from this rule are many workers in professional, executive and administrative roles, considered “white-collar” jobs. Also exempt from overtime pay are agricultural laborers, commissioned employees and certain salesmen. There are specific tests to determine whether an exempt worker can earn overtime pay, including the amount of salary and the type of duties performed.
In 2016, President Barack Obama sought to dramatically increase the minimum annual pay threshold on these exemption tests from $23,660 to $47,476. It promised to open the door to overtime pay for many managers in services industries. However, just before the change was to take effect on Dec. 1, 2016, a federal judge in Texas filed an injunction to stop it.
How do I Claim Unpaid Overtime?
Illinois employees who feel they might be entitled to unpaid wages or overtime are protected by the Wage Payment and Collection Act the federal FLSA. You can complete an Illinois Department of Labor claim form online or obtain the assistance of an experienced Illinois employment law attorney.
It is important to document instances where you have been denied overtime. Keep careful records of your time and the work tasks, and also hold on to any office memos that describe efforts to prevent proper recording of hours. Employers are also required by federal law to keep certain records that include hours worked each day. Time cards must be kept for at least 2 years.
In Illinois, you have 1 year to file a claim at the Illinois Department of Labor and up to 3 years of wage history will be reviewed. Under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law and FLSA, you have at least 2 years following a violation to file a claim and up to 2 years of unpaid overtime can be recovered. The period extends to 3 years if the employer is shown to have willfully violated the law.