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Payment Cards as Wage Payment (?)

The brilliant Illinois legislature has recently recognized payroll cards as an approved method of wage payment in the State of Illinois. This measure has passed the House (House Bill 5622) after receiving prior approval from the Senate and now awaits Governor Pat Quinn's signature. The author believes that this group is the reincarnation of Nero "who fiddled while Rome burned." As presently written, the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act expressly provides only for the payment of wages via Cash or via Check or via Direct Deposit and makes no mention whatsoever of payroll payment cards. Obviously, this dichotomy as to what the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act states and what the Illinois legislature has recently done, creates a quandary.

Based on recent guidance from the Illinois Department of Labor as of last year, the DOL attempted to clarify this confusion by establishing certain "rules and regulations" for the use of payment of wages by payroll cards, one of which clearly established that the employee must voluntarily agree to the payment of wages via a payroll card and, furthermore, that the full balance of an employee's compensation must be able to be withdrawn without the payment of any fee.

Once Governor Quinn signs House Bill 5622 into law, the recognition of payroll cards as wage payment will no longer be subject to interpretation. The Bill amends the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act by expressly providing for the payment of wages via payroll cards and also establishes, under Section 14.5, very specific requirements that must be met in order to pay wages via payroll cards:

1. Employers must not make payment of wages via a payroll card as a condition of employment of any employee. The employee must be able to voluntarily choose this resource.

2. Employers must offer employees the option of receiving their wages via Cash and/or via Check and/or via Direct Deposit and if the employee voluntarily consents, wages can be paid via the payroll card.

3. Employers must provide disclosure of terms and conditions of the payroll card option prior to initiating payment of wages via a payroll card.

4. Employees must be able to receive at least one (1) full withdrawal of their wages every two (2) weeks without incurring any fee.

5. Employees must be able to receive their transaction history once a month as well as access their balance without a fee.

There are other additional provisions that are incumbent upon an Employer who wishes to pay wages via a payroll card. It should be noted that this law, once signed by Governor Quinn, will become effective on January 1, 2015.

Questions? Contact Walter J. Liszka in the Chicago office at waliszka@wesselssherman.com or by phone at (312) 629-9300. 

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