Employers often pay their salespeople a commission, meaning that the salesperson collects a percentage of whatever they can sell. It is a way for employers to motivate their sellers, and it lets sellers see the benefits of their hard work. But, both employers and employees should note that Illinois passed a special employment law, the Sales Representative Act, to regulate how employers must pay these commissions.
The Sales Representative Act applies to all commissions, which it defines as a compensation scheme based in whole or in part on a percentage either of the employee’s gross sales, or the net profits from those sales. The Act covers three main areas: when commissions come due to the employee; how employers should handle commissions owed to a terminated employee; and the penalties that can apply to employers if they fail to comply with the Act.
As to when the employer must pay the commissions, the Act contains several scenarios. If the employee’s contract specifies a due date for the commission, then the Act allows that to control. However if the employee works without a contract, or if the contract does not specify a date, then the Act looks to the employer’s past practice of when they pay the employee, and then holds the employer to that schedule. If the employer only recently hired the salesperson, meaning there is no past practice, then the Act uses the standard practice of the salesperson’s industry to determine when the employer owes commissions.
The Act also lays out specific requirements for paying commissions to terminated employees. If the employer owes any commissions to the employee at the time they let the employee go, then the employer must pay those commissions within thirteen days of the employee’s termination. If more commissions come due after the employee’s termination, then the employer must pay those no later than thirteen days after they come due. Additionally, the Act specifies that an employee’s waiver of the right to collect on commissions after they are terminated will not be enforced.
The Act also contains severe penalties for employers who fail to comply with the Act’s guidelines for when to pay commissions. An employee may sue them for failure to pay, and receive up to three times the value of the commissions. Additionally, the employer may be forced to cover the salesperson’s court costs as well as their attorney’s fees.
If you are a salesperson being paid on commission who believes their employer violated this act, or if you are an employer concerned about whether your practices comply with the law, contact an experienced Illinois employment lawyer today. We serve many northwest suburban areas including Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, and other nearby communities.