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No Rest for Employers: What You Need to Know about Illinois’ New Break Requirements


3 minute read

No Rest for Employers: What You Need to Know about Illinois’ New Break Requirements

Employers hoping for a break after the holidays may not be able to rest long, as 2023 greets them with a revised One Day Rest In Seven Act (ODRISA or the Act), which took effect on January 1, 2023.

ODRISA does more than just what its name implies: In addition to entitling covered employees to a day of rest every week, it requires employers to provide meal breaks to covered Illinois employees. The recent changes to ODRISA include clarifications to when a 24-hour rest period should be provided, additional meal breaks for longer shifts, new notice requirements, and increased penalties for violating the law.

A New Seven-Day Period and Additional Required Breaks

Previously, ODRISA required employers to provide employees with at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each “calendar week,” which Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) regulations defined as Sunday through Saturday.

The amended Act moves away from the workweek concept and instead requires the day of rest to occur in every “consecutive seven-day work period,” clarifying the day-of-rest requirement for employees whose schedules do not align with a traditional calendar week.

In addition, the amended Act requires additional meal breaks for employees working longer shifts. Previously, ODRISA required employers to provide employees working at least 7½ hours with an unpaid meal break of at least 20 minutes beginning no later than the fifth hour of work. That requirement remains, but the amended Act now requires employers provide an additional meal break for every additional 4½ continuous hours worked after the initial 7½ hour shift. These additional meal breaks also are unpaid and should be at least 20 minutes long.

Finally, the amended ODRISA clarifies that “reasonable time spent using the restroom facilities” does not qualify as a meal break.

New Notification Requirements

Under the amended Act, employers are required to post an IDOL-provided notice in the workplace informing employees of their rights under ODRISA. Interestingly, the amendments address how to provide notice to remote workers. If an employee does not regularly report to a physical workplace, employers are required to provide notice via email or by posting the notice on a website the employer uses regularly to communicate information to employees.

New Penalties for Non-Compliance

With new requirements for employers come new, and stricter, penalties for violations. Previously, an ODRISA violation only carried a fine of $25 to $100 per offense. Effective January 1, 2023, these damages are potentially quintupled.

Employers with fewer than 25 employees face fines of up to $250 per offense payable to the IDOL, and damages of up to $250 per offense payable to the affected employees. For employers with 25 or more employees, the fines and damages are up to $500 per offense.

Moreover, violations will be determined on an individual basis for each employee. Each workweek in which a day of rest is not provided will be considered a separate offense, as will each day an employee is not provided a required meal break. As a result, penalties and damages can accumulate quickly.

A violation of the notice requirements, conversely, constitutes a single offense subject to a civil penalty of up to $250, regardless of employer size, payable to the IDOL.

Next Steps

If they have not done so already, employers with Illinois employees should review and update their meal break and ODRISA policies, as well as review what they should do to comply with the law’s new notice requirements. If you have any questions or would like assistance with reviewing your policies, contact your Much Labor & Employment attorney.