On the Seventh Day, Employers Must Allow Rest


Illinois Amends One Day in Seven Rest Act

The new year will bring with it activation dates for new or amended state legislation that passed earlier this year, some of which will have an impact on small business owners and their employees.

One significant change that employers should know about centers on the One Day Rest in Seven Act, or ODRISA. Heretofore, that law has mandated a minimum of 24 hours of rest per calendar week, but as of January 1, this will change to 24 hours of rest per seven-consecutive-day period. So if an employee works for six consecutive days, the law now covers with them on day seven, even if those six days don’t align with a Sunday through Saturday work week.

The legislature passed another change in ODRISA that concerns meal breaks. Employees are currently entitled to a 20-minute meal period for every 7.5-hour shift, starting no later than five hours into that shift. That will stay true, but as of 2023, employers will be required to give them a second 20-minute meal period for every additional 4.5 hours—meaning that those working 12-hour shifts must be allotted two meal breaks. Unpaid meal breaks still must be at least 30 minutes long, and employees must not be required to do any work during these stretches, as laid out under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employers are required to both “conspicuously” post these new state law changes on their worksite, as well as how to file a complaint; and to provide that information via e-mail or website to employees who work remotely, leveraging a “regularly used” channel of communication. For both changes, fines of up to $250 payable to the Illinois Department of Labor as well as payments of up to $250 for the affected employee can be levied—per employee whose rights are violated—for businesses of up to 25 workers. For those beyond 25 workers, those amounts are doubled to $500. 

Changes to the state Family Bereavement Leave Act have handed employers new requirements when it comes to providing days off. An amendment to the law adds several new occasions that mandate a day off, including a: miscarriage, stillbirth, failed surrogacy agreement, negative diagnosis around pregnancy or fertility, adoption match that either fails or is incomplete due to another party contesting it, and intrauterine semination or assisted reproductive technology procedure that’s unsuccessful.

Employers may ask for “reasonable documentation related to pregnancy- or adoption-related requests, which can include either an Illinois Department of Labor form filled out by the relevant healthcare practitioner, or documentation from the adoption or surrogacy organization in question. 

Another amendment to the Family Bereavement Leave Act—which covers businesses with at least 50 employees, and individually those who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months—requires businesses to grant 10 workdays of unpaid leave for employees who are attending the funeral of close family members. 

That definition includes a spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, sibling, grandchild, grandparent, or—counterintuitively for some, perhaps—mother- or father-in-law. The definition of “domestic partner” is not limited to legally sanctioned arrangements but any committed relationship. Previously, only the deaths of children, stepchildren, foster children, legal wards, or child of a person standing in loco parentis were covered in this manner.

While employers can ask for documentation related to the death of a family member, they may not ask which type of event the leave request concerns.

Before January 1, Illinois employers should: revise work schedules as needed to make sure they allow for at least one day of rest, ensure that they are ready to comply with the extra meal break required for 12-hour-shift workers, change company leave policies as needed to comply with the new bereavement requirements, and check and keep checking the Illinois Department of Labor website for new details as they roll out.