Illinois labor laws protect workers at all levels of pay. However, these labor laws are often especially important for employees who work low-wage jobs.
Too often, employers try to exploit workers who may feel they have no better options available. However, in many cases, state law is on their side.
1. The right to equal pay
Generally, employers must pay men and women an equal wage if they perform very similar work. However, an employee in a similar position may earn a higher wage based on seniority, merit or other non-gender-based factors. Additionally, Illinois labor laws prohibit employers and employment agencies from asking workers about their past wage histories during hiring.
2. The right to minimum wage, including tipped workers
As of January 1, 2023, the Illinois minimum wage became $13.00 an hour. This minimum wage applies to most employers with at least four employees. Those employed as tipped workers must also receive at least 60% minimum wage. If a worker’s tips and wages do not add up to the state’s hourly wage requirement, an employer may have to make up the difference in pay.
3. The right to regular work breaks and time off
Regular breaks from work during both the working day and during weeks of employment are also important. Unless employers obtain a special permit, they must allow employees at least 24 consecutive rest hours for every seven days on the job. Additionally, workers with shifts lasting at least 7 ½ continuous hours must receive a 20-minute meal break as well as reasonable bathroom breaks.
When employers fail to pay their workers fairly, both individuals and the families they support can suffer. That makes it essential that employees take wage and hour violations seriously.