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What is Earned Wage Access? And why do Australian workers want it?

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read
What is Earned Wage Access? And why do Australian workers want it?

Imagine if you could access your wages as you earn them as opposed to having to wait until payday? Well for a growing number of Australians that’s becoming a reality as more companies jump into earned wage access, an employer-offered benefit that’s already popular in the UK and USA.

Earned Wage Access or EWA allows employees to access a portion of their ‘earned’ salary as they need it – as opposed to having to wait until payday.

Up until now, if Australians have needed extra money for an unexpected expense some of the only solutions they’ve had are payday loans, ‘buy now pay later’ options or credit cards – all of which put them into debt.


Independent research commissioned by EWA provider Paytime shows many Australians would like to be able to access their earned pay before payday and a growing number of companies are beginning to offer the solution as an incentive for staff.

ADDEX Group which provides labour hire for mines around Mt Isa in Queensland recently introduced EWA for their staff – workers can access a portion of their salary through an app on their phones.

Manager Lisa McConnachie says 80% of staff have already signed up for it.

“Our miners are using it to cover themselves for unexpected expenses. It’s giving them access to their money for shifts they’ve worked already that they might not get paid for straight away,” says Ms McConnachie.

“Previously every week I’d be having somebody ask for an advance on their pay – so it’s saved me a lot of work no longer having to run payroll early or set up payroll deductions for loans,” she says.

“I think they use it for random bills that come up or if they unexpectedly have time off they’ve got funds they can access.”

So what is EWA?

EWA or ‘on-demand pay’ is when employees can access their wages as they earn it. Most providers will allow access to 50%+ of a worker’s earned wages.

It’s an employer-offered incentive with the technology plugging into existing payroll software. Employees can access their earned pay via an app – the money instantly transferred into their bank account. Because it’s money they’ve already earned there’s nothing to pay back, it’s not a loan and there are no credit checks required.

There’s a bit of confusion in Australia about the product, it’s not a pay-in-advance app or a payday loan because there’s nothing to pay back.

What does it cost?

There are several models an employer can choose to implement.

A company may choose to implement the solution for free but it then has an ATM style fixed fee every time staff wish to withdraw their earned wage.

Or an employer may choose to cover this fee themselves and make it free for their staff to make those withdrawals. Or the cost can be shared between both.

There’s a range of options to suit each company – but once they’ve made that choice the solution integrates seamlessly with payroll.

How do staff access it?

EWA is an employer-provided benefit so it’s up to companies to introduce it to their staff. Many companies see it as an integral part of their financial wellness platform and use it as an incentive to hire and retain staff.

EWA is designed so employees can access their own money for unexpected expenses, so they don’t have to borrow from somewhere else.

Steven Furman is the CEO of Paytime

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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