By Christina Jaremus, Adam J. Rongo, and Erin Dougherty Foley
Seyfarth Synopsis: Recent and Important Amendments to Illinois’ One Day Rest in Seven Act.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to re-think about the way we live and work in a number of ways. For instance, exceedingly flexible teleworking schedules in work settings conducive to remote work seem to be here to stay. The Illinois legislature recently decided that non-exempt employees in Illinois need more time to rest and eat too. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 3146 into law on May 13, 2022, which amends the One Day Rest in Seven Act (“ODRISA”). The amended version of the Act takes effect on January 1, 2023 and imposes hefty penalties on employers for their failure to comply.
Employees Are Entitled To One Rest Day For Each Consecutive Seven Day Period
The Illinois legislature’s amendment to the ODRISA further prioritizes rest for non-exempt employees. The amendment requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with at least 24-hours of rest in every consecutive seven day period. The prior version of the law only required a 24-hour rest period at least once every calendar week (Sunday through Saturday). This allowed employers to schedule non-exempt employees for more than seven consecutive days of work without a day off. 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 140/2, 4. For example, under the prior version of the Act, an employer could schedule an employee to work on Monday of the first week through Friday of the following week, as long as the employee had one day off at any point during both calendar weeks (Sunday in the first weekend and Saturday in the second). Effective January 1, 2023, non-exempt employees cannot work more than seven consecutive days without a 24-hour period of rest.
Employees Are Entitled To Additional Meal Breaks For Longer Shifts
The amendment also requires employers to provide employees with additional meal periods when they work long shifts. The prior version of the law permitted employees who worked for 7 1/2 continuous hours or more with at least 20 minutes for a meal period beginning no later than 5 hours after the start of the work period. Previously, employees had to work a 15-hour shift before they were entitled to a second meal break. 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 140/5 The amended version of the statute requires that an employee who works 7 1/2 continuous hours is entitled to an additional 20–minute meal period for every additional 4 1/2 continuous hours worked. Employees who work 12-hour shifts will no longer need to smuggle an emergency Snickers bar in their purse. As of January 1, 2023, they will now be entitled to two 20-minute meal breaks.
Employers Face Increased Penalties for Violations
Failure to provide meal and rest breaks will also cost employers much more in 2023. Employers will, in effect, end up buying employees what amounts to a steak dinner for two at the fanciest restaurant in town for each meal period or rest day violation. The prior version of the law made violations a petty offense, subject to a penalty for each offense between $25 and $100. 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 140/7. The amended law makes violations a civil offense and significantly increases penalties as follows:
- For an employer with fewer than 25 employees, a penalty not to exceed $250 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $250 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected.
- For an employer with 25 or more employees, a penalty not to exceed $500 per offense, payable to the Department of Labor, and damages of up to $500 per offense, payable to the employee or employees affected.
Each week where an employee has not been allowed non-exempt employees with additional meal periods and each day has not been provided a meal period constitute separate offenses. The Director of Labor can enforce the statute in accordance with the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act and the amended statute allows for the Director and parties to take depositions, issue subpoenas, and otherwise engage in discovery in accordance with the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act.
Employers Must Provide Notice Of The ODRISA Amendments
The amended law requires employers to notify their employees about their rights under the ODRISA. The Illinois Department of Labor will provide the requisite notice to post. If employees are working remotely or traveling as opposed to appearing in the workplace physically, employers must provide notice via email or on the employer’s website. Violations of the notice provision subject employers to civil penalties not to exceed $250 payable to the Department of Labor.
Employers Should Modify Applicable Policies Before The Effective Date Of The Amendments
Given that the amendments do not take effect until January 1, 2023, employers have ample time to modify existing scheduling, timekeeping, break, and any other applicable policies to ensure compliance. If you need assistance with the same, please contact your favorite Seyfarth attorney.