It’s time to give workers easier access to their wages

Getting paid on a daily basis is not a new concept. Many Americans, including waiters, taxi drivers, and bartenders, have a habit of getting paid at the end of their shift. Providing Access to Earned Wages (EWA) recognizes that life passes and an employee may need quick access to the money they’ve already earned, ahead of payday. Life doesn’t always break down perfectly into weekly or fortnightly calendars.

I recently had the privilege of testifying before the House Financial Services Committee’s Financial Technology Working Group on how EWA programs give employees the ability to immediately access the salaries they have earned and how they are. have become a valuable tool for millions of American workers who manage their personal finances during the pandemic.

For many workers, the due dates of invoices and scheduled paydays don’t always match. A 2012 study by the Financial Health Network found that 38% of respondents reported time lags between their income and spending.

In 2018, before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve released its Survey of Household Economics and Decision-Making, which found 40% of Americans would struggle to find $ 400 to pay. an unexpected bill. EWA offers a low cost option for employees who need to cover an unforeseen expense between pay days. With advancements in technology and direct deposit, employers can offer employees access to their earned wages at little or no cost.

Obstacles can be overcome

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, several barriers prevent companies from implementing shorter pay cycles for their employees, including cash limitations for companies that depend on inbound payments and receivables, which must be processed and filed.

The Financial Health Network’s April report on the EWA found that financially troubled consumers may consider a variety of very expensive options, including title, payday or pawnshop loans. The FHN report and a previous study by the Mercator Advisory Group found that the average amount paid by a consumer through EWA was less expensive than all other options.

Additionally, as many employers know, and numerous studies have found, employees who have access to EWA have greater job stability and are less likely to quit their jobs, which in turn , helps employers retain their employees.

EWA products are not loans or credits

As with any new product that enters the market, consumers need to be educated so that they understand how this product works and its benefits.

First, the EWA is generally made available to workers without recourse and the use of the product is not reported to credit bureaus.

Second, EWA suppliers take the appropriate steps to validate the hours worked by a participating employee and provide the EWA based on those wages earned. This protects against loopholes in withholding taxes for things like taxes and benefits. It also ensures that the employee will receive money on payday.

Finally, it is extremely important to note that EWA products are fundamentally different from payday loans because EWA is not a loan or a credit. It is a new and distinct product that stands on its own.

CFPB support

I agree with the two former CFPB directors — Richard Cordray and Kathy Kraninger — who often disagreed, but each took concrete steps to support EWA when he ran the office.

In 2017, Cordray exempted employer-sponsored programs from its 2017 payroll rule when it said the rule Excludes certain new “fintech” innovations from coverage, such as certain free advances and advance payment programs on earned wages when offered by employers or their business partners. ”

In 2020, Kraninger leaned on Cordray’s foundation when it released an advisory explaining that some EWA programs are not credited. Together, they recognized the potential of EWA to help employees manage their personal finances and avoid more expensive alternatives.

Primary workers, adolescents, blue collar workers and single parents do not always have easy access to credit or other forms of short-term liquidity. EWA offers an affordable and flexible option for employees of all stripes who want to manage their personal finances responsibly.

We are still learning lessons from the pandemic, but hopefully we can all agree that real-life problems require concrete solutions in real time. EWA solutions empower employees by giving them an additional tool in their financial toolbox, allowing them to access their income quickly, efficiently and with dignity.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

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Brian tate is President and CEO of the Innovative Payments Association.

About Kristopher Harris

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