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Cha-ching! Illinois minimum wage climbs to $11/hr January

In 12 days, starting on January 1, 2021, new minimum wage rates will go into effect in Illinois. The statewide minimum wage rate increases to $11 per hour and to $6.60 for tipped workers. Despite the turbulent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business economy this year, most Illinoisans saw two minimum wage increases -- first to $9.25 in January and then to $10 in July.

"We want to make sure that workers earning minimum wage are aware that the $1 increase should be reflected in their pay checks for any time they work after the first of the year," said Michael Kleinik, director of the Illinois Department of Labor. "While we fully expect employers will pay the new wage, we also want workers to be aware of the change."

State minimum wage news In 2019, Pritzker signed legislation into law a plan to increase minimum wage rate to $15 per hour and $9 for tipped workers by 2025. The new law kept in place allowances for employers to count gratuities to offset wages for workers such as food servers who regularly earn tips. Tipped employees may be paid 60% of the hourly minimum wage. Officials say these workers must still earn the minimum wage after receiving tips or the employer is required make up the shortfall.

Before the increases over past 12 months, the state's minimum wage rate was $8.25 and $13 per hour in Cook County. Currently, Chicago's minimum wage is $13.50 per hour for "small employers" and $14 for "large employers." Chicago, thanks to an ordinance approved by the city council in November 2019, will reach the mandated $15 per hour by the state almost four years earlier in July of next year.

According to a 2017 report by the National Employment Law Project, 41 percent of all workers in Illinois currently earn under the living wage of $15 per hour. That fact was backed up in a more recent study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute at the University of Illinois said more than 1.4 million adult hourly workers in Illinois make less than $15 per hour. Illinois was the first state in Midwest to officially move to a $15 minimum wage standard.

Employees with problems regarding the minimum wage can file a complaint with Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) or call (312) 793-2800. It is illegal for your employer to fire or retaliate against you in any way for asking about minimum wage compensation. Should you feel you have been treated unfairly for asking or complaining about your wages, you should the IDOL, the US Department of Labor or speak to a local attorney specializing in employment law.

Employers in Illinois are required to post the "Your Rights Under Illinois Employment Laws" posters in a conspicuous location where notices to employees are normally displayed.

If you feel you are a victim of illegal discrimination, you should contact the Illinois Department of Human Rights, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or an attorney.