Many employees are unaware what the laws regulating overtime payment in Illinois say. Many employees believe that they are entitled to payment of one-and-one-half times their salary if they work any hours over their regular schedule. In addition, many believe their employer is required to pay them time and one half, or even double, their salary if they work a holiday or Sunday. However, in the state of Illinois, these two beliefs are not necessarily true.

Overtime Pay

In Illinois, an employer must pay time and one half an employee’s regular rate of pay if the employee works more than 40 hours in one work week. A work week consists of seven consecutive 24-hour periods, but an employer may choose any day to determine when the work week starts for their employees. In addition, an employer may have different work weeks for different departments, employees or divisions. However, once the work week is established, it must remain fixed. An employer may not change the work week to avoid paying overtime. Hours worked in a work week determine whether an employee is eligible for overtime. If an employee’s regular hours are less than 40 hours per week, the employer is only required to pay overtime on hours worked over 40. In other words, if the regular work hours for an employee total 35 hours per week, the employee would receive no overtime until they have accumulated over five hours more than their regular working hours.

Exemptions to Overtime

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lists some employee categories that may be exempt from overtime. Each exemption has its own requirements that must be met in in order for an employer not to pay the employee overtime. These include:

• Salesmen and mechanics who sell or service vehicles or farm equipment at dealerships

• Agricultural employees

• Some executive, administrative or professional employees

• Select radio or television employees in cities with a population less than 100,000

• Commissioned employees

• Certain educational and childcare employees

Holidays and Sundays

There is no regulation in Illinois or in the FLSA that requires an employer to pay overtime to an employee who works on Sunday or a holiday unless working those days causes the employee to work more than 40 hours in the work week. Employers may include a policy that offers employees time-and-a-half or double time pay on Sundays and holidays. If such a policy exists, the employer is required to pay overtime to an employee working those days.

Presidential Memorandum

In March 2014, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum instructing the Secretary of Labor to update regulations regarding employees who are eligible for overtime. This could mean changes to employee categories who are exempt from overtime as well as to the hours an employee is required to work before overtime must be paid. In addition, the Secretary has been ordered to simplify overtime rules to make them easier for both employees and employers to understand.

Because many employees misunderstand the regulations related to overtime, a company may face a complaint from an employee who believes they were eligible for overtime that was not paid. When these situations arise, a business litigation attorney can provide advice and guidance on how best to proceed with an employee’s complaint regarding overtime.


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