In an attempt to alleviate some of its employees’ financial worries, Walmart has announced that it is providing a service that will allow them to receive a paycheck before their next payday.
According to The New York Times, Walmart’s more than 1.4 million workers can now use an app to access a portion of the pay for the hours they’ve already worked. For the country’s largest private employer, the goal is to help workers avoid expensive payday loans and other debt traps.
“We think it’s the right thing to do, and we’re happy to stand up for it,” Walmart COO Judith McKenna said in an interview. She added that workers who are less concerned with cash flow issues “feel more confident and more settled at work”.
But Walmart’s new initiative also unwittingly highlights the financial difficulties of the company’s low-paying workforce. The minimum starting wage at Walmart is $ 9 an hour, which is $ 1.75 more than the federal minimum wage, but lower than the starting wage at retailers like Costco, which pays $ 13 an hour, and Target, who recently increased their entry-level salary to $ 11 an hour.
The average hourly wage for a full-time Walmart employee is $ 13.85, while the average hourly wage at Costco is around $ 24.50.
“Their paychecks are too small,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel for the National Employment Law Project, a workers’ rights group.
Walmart uses an app called Even to make its payment initiative a reality. The offer – which securely connects to an associate’s checking account, prepaid account or Walmart Associate payment card, and connects to Walmart’s payroll systems – will help Walmart employees better manage their finances. It even determines exactly how much they can safely spend before their next paycheck, and Walmart pays a fee on behalf of its employees to the tech company that runs the app.
“Money management is something that people at all income levels struggle with, largely because they don’t have access to the right tools,” said Jon Schlossberg, CEO of Even. “In real life, if you want to move forward, you have to make a financial plan, and also have a way to fix the plan when it fails. Even offers tools for both, together in one app. Working with Walmart and PayActiv gives us the opportunity to put these powerful and easy-to-use money management tools into the hands of millions of hard-working Americans.
All Walmart employees can use Even’s financial planning tool and can get eight payments, called instapays, for free each year. They may pay extra to receive more than eight instapays. For most workers, instapays will be deducted from their next paycheck. Workers can only withdraw a portion of the wages they have already earned during the two-week pay cycle.
Labor groups say the best investment Walmart could make is not in a new app, but in raising wages. “All of these solutions to help people make a living from paycheck to paycheque put the burden on the worker, not the employer,” said Carrie Gleason, who works on issues affecting retail. and other low-wage workers at the Center for Popular Democracy, a rights group. .