Abraham Lincoln's log cabin. The Sears Tower. Chicago's own Deep dish pizza. Lots and lots of prairies. That's right – Illinois is known for contributing to plenty of iconic Americana, but few things are more American than hardworking people fighting for fair treatment and fair pay. It's those people, during the heyday of unionization, who played a huge part in motivating President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration to sign into law the monumental Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
The FLSA has since protected workers' rights – from establishing a minimum wage to prohibiting inhumane work hours – across the country, including workers in Illinois, where tough jobs like agriculture and manufacturing define the economic landscape. While the FLSA covers the entire nation, individual states can add further protections to the law (though they may not subtract protections from it). In the Land of Lincoln, state laws work hand-in-hand with the most current version of the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure that when people work overtime, they get fairly compensated.
Illinois has overtime laws in place, but it also has a whole lot of legal exemptions to overtime rules.
Basic Illinois Overtime Rules
The bulk of laws regarding overtime pay in Illinois can be found in the public acts recorded in the Illinois Compiled Statutes produced by the Illinois General Assembly, primarily in part 820, section 105.4a. These statutes detail a cornucopia of employee protections and employer regulations, such as defining the minimum wage in the state ($8.25 per hour for non-tipped employees over the age of 18, as of 2018).
In the Prairie State, overtime pay is legally due to employees who work more than 40 hours in a single work week – this is exactly the law prescribed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, too. Interestingly, it's up to the Illinois employer to define "work week," but the state determines the rate of overtime pay – it clocks it at time and one half of an employee's regular pay rate, for hourly employees. So, for example, the overtime wage for someone making the Illinois minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would come out to $12.38 per hour.
For Illinoisans who make an hourly pay rate plus bonuses or commissions, overtime pay must equal their regular rate plus the work week equivalent of the bonus and commission. This is divided by the total hours in the work week, then halved and added to each overtime hour worked.
In the case of those on a salary clocking overtime hours in Illinois, the overtime rate may vary. First, their regular rate must be determined by dividing their salary by the number of hours worked per work week. The time-and-a-half overtime rate is then calculated from this regular rate figure.
These state overtime laws apply to any employer with one or more employees, and they even apply to highly paid workers who rake in over $100,000 per year. Overtime is based on the work week, however, so mandatory overtime does not necessarily kick in if an employee works for more than eight hours in a single work day (some states do enforce daily overtime limits, but that's not the case in Illinois).
More Laws for Overtime in Illinois
Laws for overtime in Illinois get a little more detailed than just calling it a day at "time and a half." For instance, part 820, section 105.4a of the Illinois Compiled Statutes also notes that employers do not have to pay time-and-half (or double time, or anything over an employee's regular rate in general) on legal holidays or Sundays (Illinois takes its Sundays very seriously; even the decision to sell alcohol on Sundays is determined by law on the local level). The good news, though, is that employers may choose to offer time-and-a-half or additional pay on holidays or Sundays (or whenever they want, really) in their own policies. If a company policy promises such pay bumps, Illinois law says that they must honor that agreement.
Illinois state law actually allows employers to require employees to work some overtime, unless those overtime hours defy the legislation known as the One Day Rest in Seven Act. This act primarily ensures employees a minimum of 24 hours of rest for each calendar week, as well as a meal period of 20 minutes for each 7.5-hour shift. However, it does allow employers to seek permits that enable willing employees to work on the seventh day.
On the other side of the coin, compensatory time – or "comp time" – is illegal in the state. Comp time is an arrangement in which employers offer employees time off in place of overtime pay, but in Illinois, it's a legal no-go.
Illinoisans who were entitled to overtime pay but did not receive it are able to collect after the fact, but the state imposes a three-year statute of limitation on collecting unpaid overtime wages. Complaints regarding overtime pay and other wage issues may be filed at the Illinois Department of Labor's Fair Labor Standards Division via the filing of a Wage Claim and Minimum Wage Complaint Form.
Bad news for Illinoisans in a pretty wide swath of some of the state's most prominent industries: Those Illinois Compiled Statutes list a whole lot of exemptions to overtime pay laws. Buckle in, because there's a good chance you or someone you know is on that list.
At the top of the list of exemptions is agricultural labor. In a state composed of about 75 percent farmland and roughly 72,200 farms, according to 2017 data from the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, this exemption is surely felt. The Illinois food and fiber industry employs nearly 1 million people and generates $19 billion worth of agricultural commodities annually.
But agricultural laborers aren't alone. Salespeople and mechanics involved in selling or servicing cars, trucks or farm implements at professional dealerships also stand outside of the overtime protections umbrella, as do some employees in the radio and television industry who work in Illinois cities with a population under 100,000. Certain educational and residential childcare employees and those who exchange hours pursuant to a workplace exchange agreement are also exempted.
Even more exemptions from overtime pay in Illinois are brought to light by definitions contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act. As the most recently amended act states, "any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity [...] including any employee employed in the capacity of academic administrative personnel or teacher in elementary or secondary schools [...] or in the capacity of outside salesman [...] except that an employee of a retail or service establishment" is exempt.
The same goes for commissioned employees as defined in section 7(i) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The federal act defines an employee as commissioned if "more than half his compensation for a representative period (not less than one month) represents commissions on goods or services. In determining the proportion of compensation representing commissions, all earnings resulting from the application of a bona fide commission rate shall be deemed commissions on goods or services without regard to whether the computed commissions exceed the draw or guarantee."
Illinois Public Act 094-0672 defines these exemptions even more clearly. Executives, administrative employees and professionals with salaries of no less than $455 a week are exempt, as are computer employees who earn no less than $455 per week or $27.63 an hour. The act defines computer workers as those whose primary duty is "theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge in computer systems analysis programming and engineering." This can apply to software engineers, programmers, systems analysts and others. For those in outside sales, no minimum salary is required for overtime exemption.
Apart from career-related exemptions, the Illinois Compiled Statutes list yet another, extremely specific, party exempted from overtime pay requirements. If an employee is receiving remedial education that meets three requirements – it's designed for those without a high school diploma, it seeks to provide basic reading skills at an eighth-grade level or below, and it does not include job-specific training – employers are not required to pay overtime rates for up to 10 hours of work over the full-time work week.
Illinois Employee Classification Act
In January of 2008, the Illinois Employee Classification Act sought to protect employees – construction workers, in particular – from unlawful wage and work practices. Oftentimes, construction employees were exploited in the state by being treated as independent contractors, thus excluding them from the employee protections provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Compiled Statutes.
This act clearly states that the failure to properly designate or classify individuals performing services as employees is a violation of the law, and invites employees to files complaints with the state if employers violate the act. As employees, Illinoisans who work in oft misclassified fields such as construction are entitled to the same overtime, minimum wage and other protections as all other types of employees in the state.
Illinois Mandatory Overtime Limitation Act
In March of 2011, bill HB3176 – known as the Mandatory Overtime Limitation Act – was filed with the Illinois General Assembly and made effective immediately. While employers in the state can require employees to work overtime, the Illinois Mandatory Overtime Limitation Act protects the well-being of employees by imposing some restrictions on the legality of this practice.
According to the Mandatory Overtime Limitation Act, an employer may not require any employee to work additional overtime if she has already worked 48 hours over the course of a single work week.
This legislation applies to all private and public employers in the state, including Illinois state political and governmental subdivisions. Likewise, if an employee has already worked 12 hours in a 24-hour period, an employer may not require that employee to work additional overtime within that 24-hour period. In both cases, employees do have the right to work said overtime on a voluntary basis – the law simply states that it may not be required of them. If any employee chooses to turn down additional overtime, this pro-workforce bill guarantees that the decision cannot be leveraged by the employer as grounds for discrimination, dismissal, discharge, retaliation or any other sort of adverse employment-related decision.
For those voluntarily hard-working employees, the Mandatory Overtime Limitation Act sweetens the deal even more. If an employee opts to work for more than 48 hours during the work week or more than 12 hours during a 24-hour period – provided all other factors are on the legal up-and-up, as per the Illinois Compiled Statutes and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act – this bill states that said employee is entitled to not just time-and-half, but to twice her regular hourly pay rate.
For any additional questions about current laws, the Illinois Department of Labor offers over-the-phone help on the subjects of minimum wage and overtime at (312) 793-2804.