Working for money but not being paid for your work can be one of the most frustrating situations in which a person can find themselves. Your employer has a legal responsibility to pay you for the hard work that you do. 

If you are living in Illinois, it is important that you know which wage rights affect you to ensure that you are being paid fairly and on time. Should you have any problems or disputes concerning an issue with your paycheck, you may be entitled to recovery under both Illinois and federal laws. 

In general, the laws for paychecks in Illinois cover topics, such as hours worked, wage laws, and overtime payment. The following provides a general overview of some of the relevant laws for paychecks in the state of Illinois.

When Does the Law in Illinois Require Paychecks to be Sent Out?

Under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, an employer must pay their employees at least once every 13 days if they are regular “blue collar” employees. If they are professional, administrative, or executive employees, however, then they are only entitled to be paid out on a monthly basis.

For this reason, if an employer fails to deliver an employee’s paycheck in accordance with the rules of the Act, then that employer may become legally liable for their violation. In such cases, taking legal action may be necessary in order to obtain the appropriate legal remedy for this type of claim.

What Happens to My Paycheck If I am Fired in Illinois?

In Illinois, regardless of whether an employee was fired or they quit, they still have the right to receive their final pay upon termination (last paycheck) on the company’s next scheduled payday. 

Although the state does not require companies to offer paid leave, if a former employer does happen to offer such a perk, then they must pay employees for any unused vacation days when they leave the job. Again, employees are entitled to this payment whether they quit their job or were fired from it. 

Every state has its own laws in regard to final paychecks. Thus, if you are not trying to collect a paycheck in Illinois state, then the above information does not apply to you. 

Do the Wage Laws in Illinois Permit My Paycheck to be Garnished?

Wage garnishment is a type of arrangement where an employer is legally permitted to set aside some of an employee’s paycheck. This happens so that it can be used to pay off various kinds of debt, such as unpaid child support or student loans that are in default. 

Wage garnishment is generally ordered and authorized by a court. The court will typically order an employer to take a certain portion from the employee’s paycheck, and then have them send the garnishment to the court, or alternatively, to a third party agency that processes debt payments or manages funds on the court’s behalf. 

Additionally, if an employee owes money for other kinds of bills, such as for a civil settlement or for overdue rent payments, a creditor must first go to a court and ask for a judgment against the employee. 

Once the creditor receives the judgment that orders the employee to pay the specified debt, the creditor can have the employee’s paycheck garnished to pay for that debt until it has been completely paid off. 

Similar to other debts, however, an employer cannot automatically deduct money from an employee’s paycheck for items, such as broken work equipment or products. If an employer wishes to dock an employee’s wages for such a loss, then they need the employee’s written consent to do so at the time that they are deducting the amount. 

Does Illinois Allow Employees to Recover a Paycheck That was Withheld?

Employees in Illinois have the right to recover a withheld paycheck that an employer is refusing to provide to them. If an employee is having issues getting their paycheck, then they may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor to obtain assistance.

In some cases, the entire paycheck may not be withheld, but there may be some significant amount missing from it. In these types of instances, it might be necessary for an employee to bring a wage and hour lawsuit.

A wage and hour lawsuit is one where the court will review a person’s paycheck, pay history, and other various forms of evidence to determine an appropriate legal remedy for the employee. 

For example, the employee may have been entitled to a minimum wage rate. If their employer failed to calculate the employee’s pay at that rate, then the employee may be entitled to damages. 

Some other areas of dispute may also include: issues with the employee’s hours, overtime pay rates, tips, benefits, and various issues relating to employment or labor laws

What Else Should an Employee Located in Illinois Know About Paychecks?

In addition to a federal law entitled, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the state of Illinois has also enacted its own law that provides specific guidelines for overtime payments and minimum wage. This law is known as, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law.

Similar to the FLSA, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law requires that non-exempt employees must receive a certain amount of overtime pay for any week in which they worked more than 40 hours. A non-exempt employee is simply one who must be paid for every hour that they work, and thus, are entitled to receive overtime payments and minimum wage.  

Unlike the FLSA, however, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law applies even if an employer has only one employed worker. This law also sets a different minimum wage amount for employees, does not include an exemption for highly compensated individuals, and extends the statute of limitations for those bringing a claim regarding their owed overtime pay. 

Illinois also has a law called the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (“IWPCA”). In general, the IWPCA provides employees certain protections. For instance, it:

  • Mandates a timeframe for when an employee must be paid after a pay period ends;
  • Specifies protections against particular wage deductions;  
  • Requires non-exempt employees to be paid on a bi-monthly basis (this may vary depending on whether or not there is an agreement); and 
  • Instructs employers to pay out all final compensation to an employee when they top working, including:
    • Earned bonuses and commissions
    • Unused vacation time;
    • Severance; and
    • Other miscellaneous expenses.

Finally, in Illinois, an employer is not allowed to stall until an employee returns their uniform or relevant work equipment, to provide them with a final paycheck. There is one condition where this may not hold true though and that is when there are certain provisions mentioned in an employment contract.

It is important that an employee checks to ensure that there are no specific items mentioned in their employment contract that could make them liable for property damages. For instance, there may be a provision in an employment contract that discusses what happens if an employee crashes a company vehicle. 

In order to prevent liability in the future, you may want to consider having an attorney review your employment contract before you sign it.

Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer to Help Me with Issues Regarding My Paycheck?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your paycheck, you should strongly consider contacting a local Illinois employment lawyer as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing any legal issues with your paycheck, talking to a lawyer can help you assess what legal options are available to solve the problem. A lawyer can provide further information about the laws of Illinois state and how they may affect your rights as an employee.