Laws are established for various reasons, mainly to keep citizens safe and provide for a fair society. The state of Illinois has several new laws taking effect in 2021, one of which affects employers and their employees. The minimum wage will increase to $11 per hour for standard workers; $6.60 per hour for tipped workers, and $8.50 per hour for workers under the age of 18 who work less than 650 hours in a calendar year. This new legislation is part of a staggered plan that will eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. However, many retailers have expressed concern that they cannot afford this new hourly rate after struggling to stay open during the pandemic. Whether you own a small start-up or a well-established company, it is important to understand the legal consequences for hourly wage violations in Illinois.
Although the wage rate increase for 2021 is meant to assist the entire Illinois workforce, it will gradually increase depending on what part of the state you live in. On July 1, 2021, the minimum wage in Chicago will increase to $15 per hour, or $14.50 per hour for employees at companies with 20 or fewer employees. The minimum wage for tipped workers will increase to $9.00 per hour, and employers are required to make up the difference if the base wage plus tips does not equal $15.00 per hour.
All employers have an obligation to know the minimum wage laws and are required to post the Fair Labor Standards Act provisions in a place where workers can easily read them. If a company pays a worker less than what is mandated by federal minimum wage laws, or neglects to adhere to overtime pay guidelines, the employer may be required to go to court and face maximum penalties. The Wage Payment and Collection Act issued by the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) designates when, where, and how often wages are to be paid and prohibits deductions from wages or compensation without a worker’s consent. It is important to note that federal and state government employees are considered exempt and therefore cannot file claims under the Act.
Any employer who violates the Wage Payment and Collection Act is liable for the amount of unpaid wages owed to an employee as well as damages equal to 2 percent of the underpayment, per month, beginning from the date of the underpayment.
In addition, an employer who has been ordered by IDOL or a court to pay wages or final compensation to an employee must also submit a $250 administrative fee to IDOL. This fee increases to $500 if the amount ordered by the Department is more than $3,000, and $1,000 for orders of $10,000 or more.
With 2020 behind us, many people are looking forward to a happier, healthier new year. New legislation in Illinois for 2021 includes raising the minimum wage for workers. If you own a company, it is critical that you are aware of any changes to employment law. The Miller Law Firm, P.C. has extensive experience in handling legal matters that affect Illinois business owners. Our dedicated Illinois employment attorneys will help you resolve any employee disputes so you can preserve the integrity of your livelihood. To set up your free consultation, call our office today at 847-995-1205.