To those accustomed to receiving a paycheck every couple weeks, getting paid every day might sound like either a dream come true or a troubling temptation. For better or worse, “same-day pay” is becoming an increasingly popular payroll benefit offered by employers. And the results of a recent study indicate that many employees would appreciate the option.
Most employers pay employees for services performed weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly. At the federal level, there are no pay frequency requirements. The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates minimum wages, overtime, hours worked, recordkeeping and child labor. However, it doesn’t dictate when employees must be paid.
Some U.S. states do have certain pay frequency requirements. For example, in New Hampshire, employers must pay employees wages on a weekly or biweekly schedule. Semi-monthly and monthly pay frequencies must be approved by the New Hampshire Department of Labor. In California and Michigan, the frequency of pay depends on the occupation.
Enter the EWA
Within the last decade or so, more employers and third-party payors are offering a new pay frequency that allows employees to receive earned wages on the same day that they perform services. These are typically referred to as earned/early wage access (EWA) arrangements and, as mentioned, they’re becoming more popular for certain types of jobs, such as drivers and service industry workers.
Under an EWA program, employees generally use an app to access accrued wages before the end of their regular pay cycles and the amounts are transferred to a bank account, prepaid debit card or payroll card. This process differs from payday lending because the worker has already performed the work for the pay in question.
Instant Financial, an EWA services provider, first surveyed U.S. workers in 2018 to understand the effects and perceptions of wage frequency on job consideration, application and offer acceptance. Just this year, the company conducted a follow-up national research study in partnership with the Center for Generational Kinetics.
This latest survey sought to understand how perceptions have changed around wage frequency, primarily because of the pandemic. It also looked at the impact that pay frequency can have on financial health and other organizational factors. The study found that more Americans:
- Are concerned about making their paychecks last until the next payday; 54% in 2022 vs. 29% in 2018,
- End up short on money before their next payday; 51% in 2022 vs. 24% in 2018, and
- Want to be able to get paid on the same day as they work; 79% in 2022 vs. 49% 2018.
The 2022 report also found that 56% of workers would stay longer at their jobs if they could get same-day pay at no extra cost. In addition, those polled said they’d feel more engaged and valued as employees — and would recommend an employer to job-seeking family and friends — if that employer offered a no-cost EWA arrangement.
One might note that an EWA services provider issuing a research study trumpeting the upsides of same-day pay is hardly surprising. Prudent employers should look before they leap when it comes to offering such a payroll benefit — particularly regarding the cash flow impact, administrative burden and costs. If you’re interested, contact us for help deciding whether same-day pay is right for your organization.