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Many employers fail to properly pay their workers for their wages.  This page is to help answer your questions about the right to be paid.

Vacation Pay:

Can an employer hold my paycheck?   Typically, in Illinois, if you are owed wages, they must be paid.  This is the case even if you owe your employer money for something (i.e., for a uniform).

Am I entitled to vacation pay with my final paycheck?   Yes, in Illinois, employers typically are required to pay out accrued vacation pay but it depends on the language of the vacation policy.

Can my employer make deductions from my paycheck without my permission?  Typically, the answer is no (although certain deductions are allowed).

The Act also provides for regulations relating to when an employer may deduct from an employee’s wages.  It is illegal for an employer to unilaterally deduct from an employee’s wages without the employee’s voluntary and signed consent. Under the act, an employer may only deduct from an employee’s wages under the following circumstances: 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 accident over payment. Finally, even if an employer receives an employee’s consent to deduct from the employee’s wages when the employee starts the job, the employer is required to receive the employee’s written consent each individual time the employer makes a deduction.

What laws govern unpaid wages in Illinois?

We are often asked how to make a wage claim for unpaid wages.  In Illinois, payment of employees is governed by the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“Act”). The Act provides rules relating to procedures of how an employee should be paid, when an employer may deduct from an employee’s wages, when and how an employee must be paid final compensation, and penalties for any violations of the Act.  The Illinois Department of Labor helps enforce the Act.

As of 2014, the minimum wage in Illinois is currently $8.25 per hour for those individuals who are 18 years and older. Individuals under 18 years of age may be paid at the rate of $7.75 per hour, but may not be paid less. Failure to pay an employee at or above these rates can result in an employer being liable for past due wages. The employer may further be liable for interest on the amount due, penalties, and the employee’s reasonable attorney fees incurred in an attempt to recover their wages.

Compensation relating to tipped employees differs from that described above. As of 2014, tipped employees must receive at least the minimum wage, though an employer may elect to pay the employee only $4.95 per hour and use the employee’s tip as a credit for up to 40% ($3.30) of the minimum wage.   There are other requirements for an employer to take the tip credit.

 

 

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