When an employee leaves an employer under less than amicable circumstances, an employer may be tempted to refuse to pay certain aspects of compensation, such as commissions, bonuses or reimbursements. After all, an employer may believe that the employee is unlikely to sue for such items, especially if the dollar value is low. However, the Illinois Wage Payment Act (“Wage Act”), 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq., provides a powerful tool to employees, and can make an employer’s decision to refuse payment an expensive one.
The Wage Act applies to a broad category of payments. Final compensation under the Wage Act is defined as “wages, salaries, earned commissions, earned bonuses, and the monetary equivalent of earned vacation and earned holidays, and any other compensation owed the employee by the employer pursuant to an employment contract or agreement between the 2 parties.” 820 ILCS 115/2. The Illinois Department of Labor has promulgated regulations stating that employee reimbursements are within final compensation. Therefore, all compensation, reimbursements and other amounts due to an employee must be paid to an employee no later than the next regularly scheduled payday.