Accessing Your Paycheck Before Payday

By: Lauren Mineau

Walmart has begun allowing employees to access their paychecks before official paydays. The world’s largest retailer, and one that’s often critiqued for its low wages, unveiled financial planning tools designed by Even Responsible Finance Inc. and PayActiv Inc. that lets its employees access earned wages ahead of scheduled paychecks and avoid bounced checks or payday loans.

Workers will receive eight free uses per year of the Instapay tool via Even’s personal finance app, which is linked to the employee’s checking or prepaid account and Wal-Mart’s payroll system.

“Traditional approaches to workforce well-being often focus solely on physical health, but we know from listening to our associates that financial well-being is just as important,” Walmart Chief People Officer Jacqui Canney said in a statement.

An unexpected car repair or doctor’s bill could force a low-wage-earning worker to get themselves into debt by applying quickly for high-interest loans or other lending programs.

But even still, some workers make just enough money to get by no matter when they are paid. The program could help people avoid overdraft fees and late fees, but a livable wage is similarly crucial.

The program won’t charge interest, but it does leave an employee with that much less cash on payday.

These kinds of apps have grown in popularity in recent years as a solution to payday loans, which are often for small amounts but with high interest. However, Walmart appears to be the first large employer to directly offer it to its workforce.