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Can You Be Required to Work 7 Days in a Row?

Employers taking advantage of their employees is a tale as old as time. But thanks to several Illinois laws and regulations, employees have more protections than ever, helping to prevent harmful and unreasonable work conditions. One such protection is covered by the One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA). This Act safeguards an employee’s right to break and rest periods during their workday and throughout the week. ODRISA, image of employee with headset sitting at desk rubbing temples, Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers

Recent changes to ODRISA as of January 1, 2023, have strengthened these protections to prevent employers from taking advantage of their hard-working employees. In this article, we’ll cover pressing questions such as “Is it legal to work 7 days in a row in Chicago, IL” and “How many rest periods are required in one workday.”

Table of Contents

Employers Who Took Advantage of Former Requirements

Formerly, the One Day Rest in Seven Act defined the work period as Sunday through Saturday. The act stated that employers must allow employees at least 24 hours of rest within one 7-day work period. However, it didn’t take long for employers to find a way to still exploit their workers under these parameters. Depending on how the employee was scheduled, they could still be working more than 7 consecutive days if they were scheduled across the Sunday through Saturday work period.

For example, if an employee were scheduled to work Wednesday through Thursday of the following week, this would technically not violate ODRISA under its former guidelines. However, that employee would have been working 8 consecutive days.

New “Work Period” Defined by Amended ODRISA

Thankfully, lawmakers recognized the loophole in this law. Under the amended Act, the work period was redefined as seven (7) consecutive days rather than one calendar week.

This means that employees cannot be scheduled for more than six (6) days in a row and employers are required to provide one 24-hour rest period within seven consecutive days. This rule applies to all full-time workers in Illinois, with just a few exceptions which we will discuss later in this article.

Additional Provisions for Meal Breaks During Longer Shifts

ODRISA doesn’t only cover rest periods throughout the week but also throughout the workday. A 20-minute meal break for workdays 7.5 hours or more has been required in Illinois even before the new 2023 amendments to this Act. This 20-minute meal break had to be offered within the first 5 hours of the day.

Before, workers might have been offered only one meal break within a 12-hour window. However, now, employers are required to provide a second 20-minute meal break for workdays last 12 hours or more.

Exceptions to the 7-Day Rule

Sometimes, emergencies happen or there are extenuating circumstances in which an employer desperately needs employees to work more than 6 days in a row. In these cases, the employer must obtain a waiver from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) granting permission to have employees work seven consecutive days. However, workers must voluntarily agree to waive their 24-hour rest period.

Additionally, this waiver is limited to only eight (8) weeks out of the year unless the employer can show that an extension is a necessity. If you’ve been expected to work against your will for more than 6 consecutive days, you have rights. You should file a One Day Rest in Seven Complaint Form. Continue reading to find out what compensation you may be owed.

Who does the One Day Rest in Seven Act not apply to?

While many workers will reap the benefits of ODRISA, there are a few who are not protected by the Act such as:

  • part-time workers (20 hours or less per week)
  • agriculture or coal mining workers
  • security guards (or watchmen)
  • workers who are needed to prevent or remedy the breakdown of equipment or machinery that could cause damage to property, suspension of necessary operation, or injury to persons.
  • workers in canning and processing of perishable agricultural products (seasonally or <20 weeks/year)

Finally, if you are a union member, these provisions may not apply to you either. It often comes down to the parameters of each union’s collective bargaining agreements. If your collective bargaining agreement specifies meal breaks or a day off, then you will need to follow those guidelines. Otherwise, when meal breaks or a day off are not specified, ODRISA would then cover union members.

Penalties For Employers Who Do Not Comply

The new amendments to ODRISA also include harsher penalties for employers to incentivize them to comply. Previously, employers who violated this Act were only given a petty offense. Now, they will be hit with a civil offense.Infographic that reads Remote workers are covered by ODRISA just the same as in-person workers, Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers

Employers are now incentivized with harsher financial penalties as well. Penalties for violations of ODRISA before the 2023 update were $25 to $100 per offense. Now it’s a whopping $250 to $500 per offense. These fees are paid to the Illinois Department of Labor.

However, now, employees may recover damages for these violations. Employers with less than 25 employees may owe up to $250 per employee and up to $500 if the employer has 25 or more employees.

Larry Disparti Protects Workers’ Rights

ODRISA is enforced by the Illinois Department of Labor which means that violations of this Act are handled outside of court. However, it may be a red flag for other violations if an employer illegally forces their employees to work more than 6 consecutive days or does not permit meal breaks during the work day.

Larry Disparti is determined to protect workers and their rights. If you experience workplace retaliation after filing a One Day Rest in Seven Complaint Form or notice any employment discrimination, it may be worth speaking to an employment lawyer about your rights. At Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers, we are here for you and believe that everyone deserves a safe and harm-free work environment.

Contact us today for a FREE consult. Call (312) 600-6000.

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The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers is one of the most successful law firms serving the greater Chicago and Tampa areas. As the leader in Injury, Disability, Workers’ Comp, and Employment Law, with more than $1 Billion in recoveries, The Disparti Law Group Accident & Injury Lawyers has been named One of the Most Influential Law Firms in America by Trial Lawyer Magazine.

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