The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act seems like it should be rather simple, but it’s perhaps the most complicated employment law in the state. Full of traps for the unwary, the law can spell big trouble for even innocent mistakes.
The law covers all Illinois private employers, even those with only one employee, and requires at least two paydays per calendar month unless the employer specifically sets a more frequent pay period.
Employers must pay all wages earned within a semimonthly or biweekly period no more than 13 days after the pay period ends. If you pay on a weekly basis, you must dispense paychecks within seven days after the pay period ends. Exception: Executives, administrative and professional employees as defined in the Fair Labor Standards Act may be paid monthly.
When employees aren’t present on your designated payday, they’re entitled to receive their paychecks any time within the next five days.
If workers are on strike, you can’t delay payment of the wages they earned prior to the strike. Employers and unions may negotiate any alternative paydays in their collective bargaining agreements without violating the Wage Payment and Collection Act.
The law also covers payment of final wages upon termination, whether it’s voluntary or involuntary. A final check must include all money due to the worker at the time of separation if possible, but no later than the next regularly scheduled payday. Similarly, the final check should include the monetary value of all paid vacation the employee accrued.
Both Illinois and federal law forbid an employer to discharge or suspend employees when their earnings are subject to a deduction order for any one indebtedness. If it’s for child support, federal law forbids termination in retaliation for having that deduction order. If an employee is subject to a wage attachment, employers may deduct a fee of the greater of $12 or 2 percent of the deduction amount required under one or a series of deduction orders arising out of the same judgment debt, or $5 per month for complying with a child support enforcement order.
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