The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (Act) establishes when, where and how often wages must be paid. It is used to assist with the collection of wages and final compensation, including unused vacation pay, commissions, bonuses and other fringe benefits.

To whom does the Act apply?

The Act applies to all employers and employees in Illinois for work performed in Illinois, including local government and school district employees but excluding employees of the State or Federal governments. Workers who meet the legal definition of independent contractor, regardless of how classified by the employer, are also not covered under the Act.

If an employee has an employment contract that requires arbitration of all wage and benefit disputes and/or a "choice of law" provision requiring all claims to be brought in a state other than Illinois, then the employee does not have a claim under the Act. The remedies under the arbitration provision and the choice of law clause must be followed.

When must wages be paid?

Under the Act, wages must be paid at least semi-monthly. With respect to executive, administrative and professional employees, as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, once monthly payment is allowed. Commissions may be paid monthly as well.

If wages are paid semi-monthly or bi-weekly, then they must be paid within 13 days after the end of the corresponding pay period. If wages are paid weekly, then they must be paid no later than 7 days after the period in which they were earned. If wages are paid daily, then they must be paid on the same day, if possible, but in any case not later than 24 hours after the period in which they were earned. Executive, administrative and professional employee wages must be paid within 21 calendar days.

Final wages due at the time of separation should be paid at that time, if possible, but no later than next regularly scheduled payday. Employees may request final wages be paid by check and mailed. Final wages should include the monetary equivalent of all earned vacation time at the final rate of pay.

How is a claim filed?

A claim under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act must be filed within "one year after the wages, final compensation or wage supplements were due." 820 ILCS 115/11. The amount due may be recovered in a claim filed with the Department of Labor or in a civil action. A claimant who is successful is also entitled to damages of 2 percent "of the amount of any such underpayments for each month following the date of payment during which such underpayments remain unpaid." 820 ILCS 115/14. If relief is sought in a civil action, a successful claimant is also entitled to reimbursement for all costs and reasonable attorney's fees.

Speak to an employment law attorney

If you believe your former employer owes you wages and final compensation, including the monetary value of unused vacation pay, commissions, bonuses or other fringe benefits, then you should schedule an appointment with an employment lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for recovery.