For minimum wage workers in Illinois, the new year brought another $1 increase as the state nears the new minimum wage of $15 in 2025. Illinois joins 19 other states that are implementing minimum wage increases starting January 2024. The January increase is meant to ensure the wage per hour keeps pace with the cost of living, but it also brings new labor challenges for employers.

The law makes Illinois the highest minimum wage per hour in the Midwest region, an accolade that is hailed as a major victory by those who advocated for the rise.

If you're an employer in Illinois, the new minimum wage per hour depends on several factors. These include the county and municipality where you're located, whether you have a special permit to employ workers with disabilities, and whether you employ tipped workers and youth workers for less than 650 hours in the calendar year.

From Chicago to Carbondale, here's a simple guide to understanding the minimum wage in Illinois.

What is the Illinois minimum wage?

The minimum wage in Illinois is $13 for individuals 18 and older. Employers can pay their non-tipped employees $12.50 per hour for the first 90 days of their employment, after which their wage increases to $13.

Employees who are under 18 and work fewer than 650 hours in a calendar year may be paid at a rate of $10.50 per hour. The calendar year begins on the date of hire and runs 1 calendar year from that point. For example, if an employee is hired on July 1, 2023, the calendar year will end on July 1, 2024. After an employee reaches the 650-hour mark before July 1, 2024, they must be paid $13 per hour. So, if an employee reaches the 650 mark on April 15th, 2024, that employee wage must increase to the full minimum wage for the remaining time before July 1, 2024.

Certain employers can also file an application to the Illinois Department of Labor to employ the physically or mentally disabled or those impaired by age at less than minimum wage.

In January 2025, the state's minimum wage will increase another $1 per hour, bringing it to $15 for employees, $9 for employees working for tips, and $13 for youth workers.

How does the minimum wage differ for tipped employees in Illinois?

Tipped workers have a different compensation structure, though they must still be paid minimum wage. The employer may take credit for the tipped employees' tips as long as the amount doesn't exceed 40% of the wages.

Employers can also pay a training wage for up to 90 days for tipped employees over the age of 18. The training wage is $7.80 if the employer is using the tip credit and $12.50 if the employer isn't using the tip credit.

Employees paid in tips must still be paid the minimum for their services per the new Chicago law.
Under the new Chicago law, employees paid in tips must still be paid the minimum for their services.

What is the Chicago minimum wage?

As the largest city in Illinois, Chicago has its own minimum wage provisions. As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage in Chicago is $15.80 per hour for employers with 21 or more workers and $15 per hour for employers with 4 to 20 workers. Gratuities, employee age, and overtime also factor into the employees' wages.

Chicago Minimum Wage

July 1, 2023 Effective Date

Large Employers (21 or more employees)

Small Employers (4 to 20 employees)

Youth Workers

Min Wage




Overtime Min Wage




Chicago Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

July 1, 2023 Effective Date

Large Employers

Small Employers 

Youth Workers

Min Wage




Overtime Min Wage




In October 2023, the Chicago city council voted 36-10 to end the tipped minimum wage and require all Chicago businesses to pay their employees the same minimum wage per hour, regardless of whether they receive tips, by 2028. This gives these businesses four years to raise their wages to comply with the new law.

In addition to complying with the minimum wage increase, Chicago businesses must post notices about the current minimum wage, fair workweek, paid sick leave, and wage theft in a conspicuous place.

Other city and county minimum wage rates in Illinois

The Chicago minimum wage differs from the Cook County minimum wage. Businesses outside the boundaries of Chicago must comply with the Cook County minimum wage laws, which are based on the greatest minimum rate between the Federal minimum wage, Illinois state minimum wage, or the County's calculation using the consumer price index.

Some municipalities have their own minimum wage ordinance, in which case the Cook County minimum wage does not apply. The list is everchanging, so it's worth confirming with your city and county which ordinances your business should follow.

Beginning June 2023, 117 municipalities in Cook County have opted out of Cook County's minimum wage increases.

Raised minimum wage impacts restaurants and other covered businesses.
The raised minimum wage impacts restaurants and other covered businesses.

Is the statewide minimum wage rate different for restaurants?

Restaurants, for the most part, operate with tipped workers. While there isn't a minimum wage measure specifically for restaurants, Illinois restaurant owners should comply with the Chicago, Cook County, or Illinois minimum wage for employees who are tipped.

As of April 2024, a proposal exists to raise the state's minimum wage for tipped employees, mirroring Chicago's, which went into effect beginning July 2023.

Know the law and what it means for your workers.

Restaurants are a balancing act. Inflation and supply chain pressures have only increased the pressure on independent restaurants trying to balance the cost of goods and labor with actually turning a profit. While large employers might have more wiggle room when it comes to enacting a higher minimum wage, many in the restaurant business are already working with razor-thin margins.

However, skimping on employee benefits and ignoring a state minimum wage law increase could result in a workplace complaint to the Illinois Department of Labor or Cook County Commission on Human Rights. It's a crime to not comply with your state's ordinance. If a worker files a claim against your business, you're liable for the total amount of unpaid wages plus damages. In addition, you'll also have to cover administrative agency fees to the Illinois Department of Labor. If you fail to comply in a timely manner, you'll also have penalties to both the Illinois Department of Labor and the underpaid workers.

Compliance is nobody's favorite subject. It's not what drove you to the restaurant industry, and it's not the reason you wake up and go to work in the morning. But it has the power to make or break your business, and risking non-compliance with a wage increase ordinance and seeing one of your workers file a complaint with the state or city agency isn't worth it.

Keep up with laws that increase wage per hour, particularly in January and July when these laws go into effect. Full-service and counter-service establishments can take advantage of restaurant payroll software to help ensure they're compliant with local and state labor laws.

For more on minimum wages, check out these other state guides:

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DISCLAIMER: Everything here is just for informational purposes. The links and graphics may not be accurate and we encourage you to do your own research. Also, we can't guarantee results from following our advice. Always consult a professional for your specific situation.

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