New York State’s Department of Labor has proposed new payroll card rules that would advance workers’ rights and prohibit fees that unfairly deplete workers’ wages. If implemented in their current form, the rules will be the strongest of their kind in the country. Not surprisingly, the financial industry, which profits from high-fee payroll cards, is seeking to weaken the rules before they are finalized.
TAKE ACTION! The NYS DOL is currently accepting comments on its proposal. Please join us in supporting strong final payroll card rules. Feel free to use this template letter. The deadline to submit comments is July 31, 2015.
Background: Payroll cards are prepaid debit cards onto which someone’s wages are deposited. As large retail and restaurant chains and other employers shift to payroll card systems in order to save money, low-wage workers have borne the brunt of high and hidden fees — simply to access their own wages. In some cases, payroll card fees have ended up reducing workers’ pay to below the minimum wage.
The proposed NYS DOL rules would:
- Ban most payroll card fees, so that workers would not have to pay to access their wages, check their balances, speak with customer service, or request a paper statement, for example.
- Prohibit employers in NYS from forcing workers to use payroll cards. The rules would protect workers’ right to choose to be paid by paper check or direct deposit into a credit union or bank account.
- Ensure that workers paid on payroll cards have ready access to a network of free ATMs, and a way to withdraw their full wages without charge.
Employers and big banks profit from payroll cards by shifting costs to low-wage workers. New Economy Project and allies have found that low-wage workers in NYS are frequently hit with high and hidden payroll card fees. Nearly half of workers surveyed by New Economy Project, NYPIRG and Retail Action Project were enrolled by employers in payroll card programs without their consent. Our findings echo those of the NYS Attorney General’s office in its 2014 report.
By enacting strong payroll card rules, NYS will ensure that working New Yorkers are not unfairly deprived of their hard-earned wages. Please contact us for more information.