Protecting Employers Since 1985

Patchwork of Illinois Minimum Wage Laws

Media outlets are reporting that a new Illinois Minimum Wage law is all but certain to pass before the end of February. A $15 per hour minimum wage bill has been introduced and has the support of newly elected governor J.B. Pritzker. Minimum wage laws can be monumentally confusing. The usual principle is supremacy of federal law. The federal law calls for a $7.25 minimum wage. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act has a specific provision that more employee-friendly laws by state or local governments will trump federal law. That is why such a confusing patchwork has been created. Below is a bare-bones summary.

  1. US Law – $ 7.25 per hour – Bills are routinely pending in Congress to increase this, but with the current administration, no changes appear likely.
  2. Illinois Law – $8.25 per hour. But, a huge increase is a priority for the Pritzker administration. A $15 per hour minimum wage is on the horizon.
  3. City of Chicago – $12 per hour. The City of Chicago ordinance automatically increases to $13 per hour on July 1, 2019.
  4. Cook County – $11 per hour. This increases to $12 per hour July 1, 2019.

The Cook County ordinance provides that municipalities can opt out, and most have. The reality, however, is that where there is a high minimum wage law in geographic proximity to an employer’s place of business, wages will be dramatically impacted. Employers will find hiring of new employees to be difficult, if not impossible, if they are paying lower than a minimum wage law in that particular area even though that law doesn’t apply to them. We will keep you posted on the status of the Illinois law. If any of you would like a list of the Cook County municipalities which have opted out, let me know and we will e-mail it to you. Contact me at

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