Illinois Wage Payment & Collection Act
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The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act provides a remedy to employees
that do not receive their pay or wages. It ensures that even individuals
with small claims can receive justice. However, there are certain restrictions
and it does not apply to individuals that work for the federal or state
The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act provides the rules on several
important wage issues:
- Procedures for paying an employee
- Rules regarding deductions from wages
- An employee’s final compensation
- Penalties and liabilities for any violations
Understanding the Protections of the Act
There are many different facets of the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection
Act which are put in place to protect you. It is important to retain legal
counsel, as we will take the necessary time and effort to ensure you understand
your rights under this act.
The different protections of this act include:
Paying an employee: Employers must pay employees their wages at least semi-monthly in cash,
by check, or electronically. However, an employer can pay “executive,”
“administrative,” and “professional” employees
on a monthly basis, as the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 defines
those terms. Employers must also notify their employees at the time of
hiring the amount of their pay, and both the time and place of payment.
The Act further requires employers to post notices indicating the regular
paydays, and the place and time for payment.
Final compensation: The employer still must pay full compensation to a terminated employee
no later than the next scheduled payday. If the employee has paid vacation
days he or she did not use, then the employer must pay the employee the
monetary equivalent of those days. An employment policy also cannot force
an employee to forfeit any earned vacation days upon separation.
Wage deductions: An employer can only make deductions from an employee’s wages when
the deductions are (1) required by law, (2) to the employee’s benefit,
(3) in response to a valid wage deduction order or wage assignment, (4)
with the express written consent freely given at the time the deduction
is made, (5) by certain entities for certain debts, or (6) the result
of an accidental over payment. Even if the employer receives the employee’s
consent to make deductions when the employee starts the job, the employer
must still receive the employee’s written consent each time the
employer makes a deduction. Finally, the Act states that accepting a disputed
check is not a release of the balance of the employee’s claim.
Liabilities and penalties: Violations of the Act can be severe. An employer can be liable to pay the
unpaid wages, along with an interest payment of two percent for each month
it failed to properly pay the wages. An employer is also liable for an
employee’s litigation related expenses, including court costs and
attorneys’ fees. Shifting costs to the employer is important because
it provides an attorney with an incentive to help individuals with small
wage disputes. Importantly, officers or agents that knowingly permit the
employer to violate the statute can be individually liable. The Act even
includes criminal provisions for willful violations.
Enforcement: An employee can bring a lawsuit against an employer in civil court. Alternatively,
an employee can seek help through the Illinois Department of Labor (“IDOL”).
The IDOL is responsible for enforcing the Act and it attempts to resolve
controversies between employees and employers. The IDOL can prosecute
claims on an employee’s behalf, and can assess additional penalties
to an employer.
If you believe that an employer has failed to pay your wages, or made unlawful
deductions, please consult with a Chicago Illinois Wage Payment and Collection
Act lawyer by
contacting our office. We offer
free initial consultations.