Why Pharmacists Have to Take Lunch Breaks in Illinois

As of January 1, 2020, pharmacists in the state of Illinois are required to take breaks. These breaks consist of a one 30-minute meal break and one 15-minute break for every six consecutive hours worked. A second 15-minute break is required for a 12-hour shift (in addition to the other two).

The new breaks require a pharmacist to actually take a break. This means pharmacists are breaking the law if they continue to work during a break period.

What Pharmacist Breaks Mean for You

Not a whole lot. If you drop into your local pharmacy during ‘common’ break times (1-2 or 5-6) you may find your pharmacist on break. This is easily avoidable if you simply call ahead of your visit and ask about your pharmacist’s break time.

While a pharmacist is on break prescriptions that have been checked and OK’d by a pharmacist can still be sold. Many chain pharmacies in Illinois shut down completely during pharmacist breaks, however, so calling beforehand is always a good idea.

Over-the-counter products can still be sold during pharmacist breaks, but any questions for a pharmacist regarding OTC products can’t be answered until after the break.

Why Do Pharmacists Have to Take a Break?

The reasoning behind this new law is safety. Pharmacists who work at busy stores deal with hundreds of prescriptions each day—making it easier for mistakes to slip through the cracks. Giving pharmacists a break is a way to let them catch their breath and recharge before filling more prescriptions.

Will Pharmacist Breaks Affect Customers of Oswald’s Pharmacy?

If you pick up a new prescription while the pharmacist is on break, you will receive a phone call from the pharmacist later in the day. The pharmacist has to make two attempts to contact you by law. If you have questions for the pharmacist, you can wait or ask your questions during the phone call.

If you bring a new prescription into the store during a pharmacist’s break, however, you must wait until the break is over to have it filled. Again, you can avoid coming into the store during a pharmacist’s break time by calling in before you stop by.

As of January 1, 2020, our pharmacists take breaks at these times:

  • Monday: 1:30-2:00 (most Mondays we have overlapping coverage, so there is no downtime)
  • Tuesday: 3:00-3:30
  • Wednesday: 1:30-2:00
  • Thursday: 3:00-3:30
  • Friday: 1:30-2:00
  • Saturday: 1:30-2:00
  • Sunday: 1:30-2:00

If you have any other questions, please give us a call.

Written by Wil Anderson

Wil has been working for Oswald's since 1994. A 6th generation member of the Wickel-Oswald-Kester-Anderson family, Wil focuses on web development, inventory, and sales. With over 10 years of experience selling durable and home medical equipment, Wil is an expert on helping people find what they need to use after major surgery or an accident. Wil graduated with a BA in English Literature from Knox College in 2008, minoring in History. A graduate of Naperville North High School in 2004, Wil is a lifelong Naperville resident and is currently a columnist for Positively Naperville.