Illinois Raises Minimum Wage By Over Nine Percent

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Starting January 1, 2022, low wage workers received a raise, with the minimum wage in Illinois being raised from $11 to $12.00 an hour.
Minimum wage raised to $12 in Illinois (CC BY 2.0 Potter/flickr

On January 1, 2022, Illinois joined other states in raising the minimum wage for all workers over the age of 17 to $12 an hour. In Chicago, the minimum wage is already $15.00 an hour for companies with more than 20 employees. Illinois Governor J.B, Pritzker approved legislation in 2019 that would result in a $15 minimum wage for the entire state by the year 2025. Since then, there have been three minimum wage increases.

When Can Employers Pay Less Than Minimum Wage?

In jobs that include tips such as restaurant servers the employee can pay 60 percent of the minimum wage to employees. Employers can apply to pay less than minimum wage to employees designated as “learners” who are still being trained to carry out a certain job. This amount cannot be less than 70 percent of the minimum wage.

Employers can’t designate an employee as a learner if they have completed the training required. Training must be completed within six months for the purposes of lowered wages unless an investigations determines that the it is reasonable based on the job requirements for training to be longer than six months.

Employers can also apply to pay lower wages to individuals who cannot carry out all the functions of the job or can’t do so in an expected amount of time due to age, or physical or mental disabilities. This is allowed so that opportunities are not restricted for these individuals, to prevent “undue hardship,” and to protect the principle of a fair wage.

Lowered wages cannot be paid based on age or disability alone as that would be considered discrimination. It must be proven that the individual cannot carry out the tasks assigned at the level that is has been defined for the job.

If the individual is able to maintain a production level within the normal range of other employees with the same job, they must be paid the same rate minimum wage. It is required that employers pay overtime at time and a half the regular rate after an employee has worked 40 hours for the week.

Minimum Wage for Domestic Workers

The Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL) was amended to include “Domestic Workers” such as housekeepers, nannies and companions, as employees. Domestic employees must be paid at least the highest of local, state of federal minimum wage rates. in Illinois, all county, city and state minimum wage rates are higher than the federal rate which is $7.25 an hour so pay for these workers will depend on the location of their job. Domestic workers are also required to be paid overtime at time and a half and they cannot be defined based solely on whether they “live in” or don’t.

SNAP E&T, Community Workforce and TANF and The New Minimum Wage

The new Illinois minimum wage will be applied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T) for establishing member participation hours. Earnfare participants, SNAP participants who volunteer to obtain work experience and cash assistance so that they can become self-sufficient, can now earn up to $420 per month after working off the value of their SNAP benefit amount.

The new Illinois minimum wage will also apply to work hours and compensation for those involved in the Community Workforce and for specific work-like activities for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF).

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The Department of Labor Public Information Office encourages those affected to "keep a close eye" on their paychecks for time worked after January 1. Starting at the first of the year, the new $12 minimum wage must be paid for all time worked.

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Chicago, IL

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