I find that the subject of lunches and breaks is often of great interest to employees and employers alike. It is interesting to note that Illinois is one of several states with a specific state law regarding this topic.
In the state of Illinois, employers are required to give employees a meal period of at least 20 minutes if they have worked seven and a half hours or more. This meal break must happen no more than five hours after the start of the employee’s work day. This state law does not apply to workers who are under a collective bargaining agreement that covers meal periods, and it also doesn’t apply to workers who monitor individuals with developmental disabilities or mental illness.
I also think it would be worthwhile to review a recent provision in Illinois law that specifically applies to “hotel room attendants” – in other words, people who clean hotel or motel guest rooms. Under this law, hotel room attendants must be given a 30 minute meal period as well as two rest breaks of 15 minutes each in length if they will be working seven hours or more. The law also notes that hotel room attendants must be provided a room on the premises with adequate seating in which they may take their breaks. This law only applies in counties with a population of greater than three million persons.
The Illinois state law does not give specific mention to whether or not lunches or breaks for hotel room attendants or workers in general are to be paid or unpaid, but the guidance of federal law would still apply. The federal law states that shorter breaks (usually 20 minutes or less in length) must be paid. Longer meal times, however (typically 30 minutes or more) may be unpaid if the worker is completely relieved of his or her duties.
The Illinois Complete Labor Law Poster gives helpful information on lunch and break laws at the federal and state level, as well as information on many other labor law issues.
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