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Can your Illinois employer refuse to pay you for breaks?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2023 | Employment Law

Employees in Illinois have certain rights and protections when it comes to breaks and compensation. It is important to understand these rights to ensure fair treatment in the workplace.

Familiarizing yourself with Illinois labor laws provides guidance on how to protect your rights and seek appropriate remedies for any violations.

Understanding break time laws in Illinois

Illinois law requires employers to provide meal breaks to employees who work a certain number of hours. For employees who work at least 7.5 hours in a shift, they should recieve a meal break of at least 20 minutes. During this break, the employee must be completely relieved of their duties and allowed to freely use the time for their own purposes. Employers are not required to pay employees for this meal break.

Compensable breaks and rest periods

While meal breaks are not compensable, Illinois law considers short rest periods to be compensable time. Rest periods are short breaks provided to employees for their comfort and to attend to personal matters. These rest periods are typically shorter than meal breaks and are usually paid. Employers in Illinois must provide a reasonable number of paid rest periods to employees based on the length of their work shift.

Refusing to pay for breaks

Under Illinois law, employers cannot refuse to pay employees for compensable breaks. If an employer fails to compensate employees for their rest periods or requires them to work during their breaks without pay, it may be a violation of state labor laws. Employees have the right to receive proper compensation for all time worked, including compensable breaks.

Remedies for unpaid breaks

If your employer refuses to pay you for compensable breaks, there are steps you can take to address the issue. Start by documenting the instances where you were not properly compensated for your break time. Consult your employee handbook or company policies to understand the procedures for reporting wage violations. It may be necessary to discuss the matter with your supervisor or human resources department to resolve the issue internally.

Understanding your rights and seeking resolution can help ensure fair treatment in the workplace and protect your financial interests as an employee.