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Illinois Employers Ask... Can I Require My Employees to Work Seven Days in a Row?!

December 2011

By: Nancy E. Joerg, Esq.

The brief answer is: yes, sometimes.

Illinois has a very detailed and multi-part law called One Day Rest in Seven Act (820 ILCS 140/1 et seq.).

The One Day Rest in Seven Act requires at least 24 hours of rest for an employee in every calendar week. It is a law intended to give employees a break from the strain of work. A calendar week is defined as seven consecutive 24 hour periods starting at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning and ending at midnight the following Saturday.

Under this Act, employers may ask the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) for a "relaxation" of the law. If the IDOL grants a relaxation to the employer, the IDOL requires a statement from the employer demonstrating that all employees who will be working seven days in a row are in fact volunteers.

In other words, employees cannot be forced into working 7 days in a row.

EXEMPTIONS: This law does not apply to part-time employees whose total work hours for one employer during a calendar week do not exceed 20.

It also does not apply to employees needed in case of breakdown of machinery or equipment or other emergency requiring the immediate services of experienced and competent labor.

Also exempt from this law are employees employed as watchmen or security guards.

The following exempt employees are not guaranteed one day of rest in seven: Employees who are employed in a bonafide executive, administrative, or professional capacity or in the capacity of an outside salesman, as defined in Section 12(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended.

VIOLATIONS: Under the One Day Rest in Seven Act, any employer who violates any of the provision of the Act is guilty of a petty offense and is fined for each offense in a sum of not less than $25 nor more that $100. The law is enforced by the IDOL.

A violation of the Act is charged for each employee during each week in which the employee works seven days of the calendar week when no permit authorizing work on the designated day of rest has been granted by the Director.

PERMITS:A permit is required under the Act during any week in which one or more employees, not excluded by the Act, work all seven days of the week.

Fortunately, permits for eight weeks of the year are granted without "justification of necessity."

However, permits in excess of eight weeks in a year shall require justification of necessity as follows:

  • A statement that the necessity cannot be remedied by increasing the number of employees or by adjusting work scheduled and
  • Business necessity and economic conditions making such a request necessary.

An employer desiring a permit shall submit to the Director of the IDOL ("Director") in written form a request for each permit. Such request shall contain the following:

  • A statement that all employees involved are truly volunteers.
  • The anticipated number and skills of said volunteer employees.
  • Number of days covered by the permit including inclusive dates and hourly times starting on Sunday.
  • A statement that no person possessing skills in subsection (b) above is laid off.

Telephone requests to the Director shall be honored; however, the employer shall within two working days of the telephone call forward to the Director a letter consistent with the requirements in Section 220.300.

Employers shall retain for two years (and make available to the Director upon request) letters and related correspondence granting permits.

CONCLUSION: There are other provisions and exemptions under this detailed law, so check the entire One Day Rest in Seven Act before making any decisions under it. The entire Act and Administrative Rules can be found on the IDOL website :

Questions? Please contact WS Shareholder and Senior Attorney Nancy E. Joerg at 630-377-1554 or [email protected].