Workers get faster access to wages with these new apps

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For more workers across America, every day is a payday.

Uber Technologies Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and

Thriving brands Inc.

Outback Steakhouse is one of a growing group of employers providing workers with near instant access to their paychecks through breakdown apps.

New tools that allow people to spend the money they just earned have provided some workers with an alternative to short-term, high-interest loans, according to tech startups offering the services. The payment plan can also increase employee attendance and seniority, according to managers.

Employers in the retail, restaurant and service industries are looking for inexpensive perks to attract and retain employees in the face of low unemployment. For workers, immediate access to cash can provide cash to cover emergency costs, but economists say it’s not clear whether smaller, more frequent paychecks will help struggling U.S. households. financial.

“It’s almost like a drug,” says Ed Shaw, executive vice president of human resources at Caspers Co., which operates 54 McDonald’s restaurants in Florida.

About 1,300 franchisor employees have signed up to use a smartphone app, Instant Financial, since Caspers began testing it in April. Workers quickly got into service, Shaw says, as evidenced by waves of angry phone calls he received from workers on the rare occasions the app experienced a problem.

Every day at 10 a.m., the app notifies users of how much they have earned during the previous working day, prompting them to decide whether they want to deposit up to half of that money on a card. of debt. About 20% of employees accept money every day, says Shaw, who has looked at aggregate usage data.

Instant Financial does not cost employees anything and instead charges business owners a fee to operate the money distribution service. Other apps have a revenue model that consumes up to $ 3 of a worker’s daily salary.

Daily payments could help some workers ease the financial volatility of fluctuating work schedules and incomes, economists say.

Many Americans remain on fragile financial bases with little savings years after the end of the recession. This prompts some 12 million consumers to take out payday loans each year, which quickly accumulate interest and fees, according to a study by Pew Charitable Trusts.

Easily available cash can make it even more difficult for some workers to build up savings.

Barbie Roland, shift supervisor at Hardee’s in Callahan, Fla., Says it took her a few weeks to figure out how often to cash in her daily earnings, after being surprised how little was left on payday. She took so many daily payments in the first Instant Financial app test in October that her bi-weekly paycheck went from around $ 900 to $ 500.

“I said to myself: did I really insist on accepting that many times? Said Mrs. Roland.

Since then, she’s learned that it’s easier to budget if she cash in three days out of the five days she works, on average, making about $ 41 home for the day, or half of her. wage of $ 10.25 per hour.

“In some ways, employers are actually helping you save money by not paying you until the end of the month,” says Jonathan Morduch, professor of economics at New York University and director of the center. school’s Financial Access Initiative research.

Even so, instant payout benefits are growing in popularity. More than 4,500 Outback Steakhouse employees in the United States receive their tips through Instant Financial, and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft offer similar functionality to other payroll partners for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

Services have produced unexpected benefits, according to managers: Employees are more willing to work longer because they see immediate results from their work.

The 86 crew members using Instant Financial at a McDonald’s restaurant in Tampa, Fla., Now show up less often due to illness, said general manager Rebecca Kyeretwie. Before, she had to find workers to cover about 10 hours a week when others didn’t show up.

“People are begging to come to work now,” said Ms. Kyeretwie, a 21-year McDonald’s veteran, who added that she can now reliably set restaurant hours in advance. Ms Kyeretwie says she doesn’t use the app personally, as she struggled to integrate it into her bill payment and investment cycle.

Lawrence Davis quit a $ 400-a-week warehouse job about a year ago to become a courier at DoorDash Inc., drawn to the idea of ​​getting paid after every shift.

“It’s a blessing,” says Davis. While working full-time in his previous job, he says he sometimes relied on short-term loans and cash advances if he needed the cash quickly to cover unforeseen costs.

“Knowing that I’m going to get paid instantly allows me to work every day and keep in mind the goals I’m trying to achieve,” says Davis. He says he typically works around nine or 10 hours a day, stopping when he’s earned around $ 250, before taxes.

DailyPay Inc., a fintech startup, administers the benefit for DoorDash and other companies, including

GrubHub Inc.

DailyPay typically charges workers a fee of $ 1.25 to $ 3 each time they deposit their earnings into their account. The cost doesn’t bother Mr. Davis, he says, because he earns three or four times as much as in his last job.

Write to Kelsey Gee at kelsey.gee@wsj.com

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