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Illinois Rest and Meal Period Law Changes

On May 13, 2022, Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker signed into law (SB 3146). SB 3146 amends the state’s One Day Rest In Seven Act (Act). The Act requires employers to provide meal breaks to all employees and a consecutive twenty-four-hour rest period to most employees. The amendments become effective January 1, 2023, and will require employers to: 

  • Allow every employee, with exceptions, at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every consecutive 7-day period (not in every calendar week, as was the earlier standard) in addition to their regular rest period at the end of each working day; 
  • Provide a 20-minute meal period for employees who work seven and one-half continuous hours (not seven and one-half hours or longer, as was the previous standard) and it must begin no later than five hours after the start of the work period; and 
  • Provide additional 20-minute meal periods for employees who work more than seven and one-half continuous hours for every additional four and one-half continuous hours worked.

It should be mentioned that meal periods do not include reasonable time spent using the restroom.

Notice Requirements

The law also requires that employers post and maintain workplace notices which are available from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) free of charge. Employers without a physical workplace, or whose employees work remote, can provide the notice to employees by email or post it on their website so long as employees get the notice without interference. 

Penalties for Violations

The most significant changes to the law are the new penalties for violations of the rest and meal break periods based on employer size and the period of the violations. Specifically, the amendment provides that an employer that violates the law’s rest and meal break provisions “shall be guilty of a civil offense” (previously, a “petty offense”). A violation of the notification requirements will constitute a single offense and be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $250.

Next Steps for Employers

Employers should ensure that they provide and/or post the required updated notice once it is made available from IDOL. Employers may need to review the meal break practices and their scheduling processes to decide if adjustments need to be made prior the effective date. Prior to the effective date, employers who have written meal and rest break policies should also review their policies to determine if updates will be needed. Employers should also ensure that managers/supervisors understand the employer’s obligations under the law to reduce any potential wage and hour claims.

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