Recently, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an amendment to Illinois’ One Day of Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA). The Act was initially created to help overworked workers, provide breaks after working a certain amount of hours, and penalize employers who broke any of these standards. The amendment makes it much harder for loopholes to be found and increases the penalties for any breach of these requirements.
With the current law, ODRISA states that an employer must give employees at least a 20-minute break for meals if the employees are working 7.5 continuous hours and that the break must happen at the latest of 5 hours after the work period has started. With the amendment, there is now a new requirement for more meal breaks every 4.5 hours of continuous work hours on top of the 7.5 hours. The amendment also ensures employers cannot designate a reasonable time for using restroom facilities as a meal period.
Why were amendments added?
As the Act’s title implies, the State wants to ensure that employees are given a rest one day of the week. The amendment makes changes to this provision as well. The current law requires that an employee has 24 consecutive hours of rest each calendar week. Employers were able to exploit this and have employees work 12 straight days without a 24-hour break. With the amendment, the wording has changed from a calendar week to a consecutive seven-day period. This requires that the day of rest must be within seven days of the previous rest day. An increase in penalties for noncompliance with rest days and meal breaks was also included in the amendment.
In fact, penalties for non-compliance have increased significantly. Previously, violations could lead to fines of around $25-$100. This is no longer the case. Employers with less than 25 employees will have to pay a fine as high as $500. For larger employers, fines can reach up to $1000. The penalties are divided 50/50, with one half going to the Department of Labor and the other going to the affected employee.
When changes are to be expected
The new amendments to the Act will become effective starting January 1st, 2023. As an employer, you must post and keep posted a summary of the Act and how to file a complaint if needed. The Director of Labor should be sending the notice, and if it is a remote workplace, the information must be mailed or posted on a website frequently used by employees. As an employee, ensure that you recognize if your rights are being violated regarding meal breaks, 24 consecutive hours of rest per 7 consecutive days, and if the information on how to file a complaint is in a common space that is frequently used.
For more information on ODRISA, click here to learn more
If you need help filing a complaint, click here for more help