Employers need to rethink payday if they want to keep staff

second income, unpaid wages,, recovered, workers

I challenge you to find a single Australian who hasn’t experienced bill shock sometime in the last month. Petrol costs more than $2 a litre, a single lettuce is selling for more than $10, and we’re being warned to prepare for the worst when we receive our latest electricity bill. The fact so many Australians are living paycheck to paycheck is no longer a shameful secret, it’s a brutal reality. They’re needing hundreds of extra dollars a week just to put a roof over their heads.

So, why is it that we all have to wait a month, a fortnight or even a week to be paid by our employer? We work the hours, it’s our money, yet every month thousands of Australians are left counting down the days on their calendar until payday or sliding into debt due to an unexpected bill or emergency because they’ve been caught short.

Most of us would feel deeply uncomfortable asking for a pay advance from our boss. Ernst and Young research shows 70 per cent of Australians have never asked for one because it would be too difficult or awkward to have that conversation. It’s deeply personal and it could be seen as a sign of weakness, irresponsibility or incompetence.

Yet every week we have hundreds of Australians logging onto our website and signing a Paytition – demanding that we request that their employer offer them what is called Earned Wage Access or On-demand Pay. They want to be able to access their money as they need it – and not be forced to wait until the company they work for says they can have it. But when we reach out to their bosses or HR departments there’s often a huge disconnect.

Despite the technology easily and seamlessly plugging into existing payroll software, many companies can’t see the benefit in giving their workers access to their pay when they want it or when it suits them to access it. They presume they must be struggling financially or unable to manage their finances properly or ‘going through a tough time’, however, many of our users are on six-figure salaries. Some even withdraw their money early for investments or to make more regular payments on their mortgage and save on interest costs. The solution is not for those that live beyond their means, we can never help them. For the lower-income earner, it’s about matching daily expenses to pay. This has proven to significantly help people budget better, which in today’s times it’s all about effective budgeting.

In the US, earned wage access is seen as an incentive to motivate and attract staff and generate goodwill amongst a workforce. They see it as an employee benefit just like health insurance, paid time off and flexible working conditions. In fact employees in the USA are now demanding this employee benefit be provided to them.

Here in Australia, we’ve seen the focus shift over the years onto the mental wellbeing of staff which is a great thing – but financial wellbeing is still overlooked. In a tight labour market like we’re seeing at the moment, can companies afford to be ignoring what their staff want?

The workplace salary system is outdated. It’s time for a change. Employees shouldn’t have to wait a week, a fortnight or even a month for what they’ve rightfully earned. The technology is there – but it requires forward-thinking, employee-focused companies to implement it.

We see it as providing a safety net for workers – and why wouldn’t employers want to provide that, to catch their staff before they hit the ground?