Getting paid should be simple and convenient for both you and your team. Direct deposit offers numerous benefits as a modern, paperless way to handle payroll. In fact, nearly 80% of employees already use it to get their hard-earned wages.
But can you legally require direct deposit for all staff members? The answer is more complicated than you may think. Regulations vary depending on the local, state, and federal laws where your business operates. Some places mandate employee choice in payment type. Others leave it more open to employer discretion.
This article will clarify the current direct deposit laws affecting US businesses. We’ll outline which states allow or restrict mandatory direct deposits. You’ll also learn some things to remember before updating your payroll policies to make an informed decision on whether or not it’s the right fit for your workplace.
Employer Direct Deposit Law: What You Need to Know.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s answer the central question of employer direct deposit law: Can you make direct deposit mandatory?
Unfortunately, the answer is not cut and dry. The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act does not prohibit mandatory direct deposit. However, some state laws lean more toward your employee's preferences.
For example, some states require you to get team members’ consent for direct deposit and allow them to opt out or receive an alternate payment option. However, if you are considering switching to a direct deposit-first approach, here are some advantages:
- Cost savings - Direct deposit eliminates paper checks, reducing materials, postage, and manual labor processing expenses. It saves you money, too. The average direct deposit cost per employee is just $2-3 per employee versus $5-7 for printed checks.
- Faster employee payments - Employee wages are immediately available on payday with direct deposit. No more waiting for receipt and bank clearance of a paper check.
- Increased productivity - HR and payroll departments save tons of administrative time when they don't have to manage checks manually. The less time they spend on payroll, the more time they have to work on other things.
- Enhanced security - Electronic fund transfers don’t bring risks like lost or stolen paper checks. Also, unlike paper checks, direct deposit leaves a digital footprint you can easily track if you do experience a security breach.
- A sustainability focus - Paperless payroll is far more environmentally friendly than paper checks. If you’re passionate about reducing your carbon footprint, direct deposit allows you to conserve resources.
- Simplicity and convenience - Your payment processes are far more internally efficient with direct deposit. Your teams will also appreciate the fast, reliable convenience of direct deposit.
Whatever method you choose, finding the right payroll partner keeps your payroll process simple, efficient, and compliant with relevant employer direct deposit laws. It paves the way for a seamless and effective payroll system that works for you and your employees, too.
Is Mandatory Direct Deposit Allowed In My State?
You must follow applicable state laws when determining if you can (or even want to) make direct deposit mandatory. But… this gets real grey when no blanket federal statute exists in the U.S.
Instead, each state has autonomy in setting regulations for its own territory.
States that allow employers to mandate direct deposit:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
States that do not allow employers to mandate direct deposit:
- Washington, DC
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Encouraging a Direct Deposit-First Payroll Process
If you work in states where you need to get employee consent for direct deposit and both current and new employees seem to be missing the point, creative encouragement might help.
Here are some ideas to incentivize employees to sign up for direct deposit:
- Offer early access - Certain software lets you automate payroll to run a day early via for those that sign up for direct deposit. This approach provides access to wages 24 hours before the official payday. Employees eager to enjoy this benefit and get paid sooner will be happy to sign up for direct deposit, even if you can’t require it in your state.
- Use raffles and rewards - Hold monthly raffles and award prizes (like $25 gift cards or PTO hours) to enrolled direct deposit users. These contests incentivize your team to opt in and participate in direct deposit if they want to join in the competition!
- Offer fee waivers - For team members without bank accounts, consider waiving check cashing fees if they agree to switch to direct deposit. The switch eliminates a payroll expense barrier and makes it easier for you—and simpler for employees to get what they need.
- Teach financial literacy - Offering a financial literacy curriculum is a wonderful opportunity to assist your hard-working employees and gear them with tools they’ll use for a lifetime. For many small businesses, the most notable barrier to direct deposit is the fact that many employees are unbanked. It’s likely that your unbanked employees just don’t know what types of resources and guidance they need in order to open their first bank account.
Since this is a prerequisite to direct deposit enrollment, consider holding a few courses on banking basics and smart money management. Teaching your team the ropes and helping them through the process empowers them to take that next step.
- Ask for feedback - How do employees feel about your existing direct deposit program? The only way to know for sure is to ask. Maybe the software integration with your payroll provider is glitchy. Maybe they don’t like the interface to view their digital pay stubs. Whatever the problem, you’re far more likely to increase your direct deposit numbers if you know what keeps your employees from buying into your program in the first place.
While it might not be possible to make direct deposit mandatory everywhere, you can make an effort to make direct deposit a viable, attractive option for your team.
Employer Direct Deposit Law: Your Payroll Partner Can Help
Setting up direct deposit can be a big win for simplifying your payroll, whether your state forces it or just allows it. But let’s be real - revamping your process takes time and knowledge you might not have as a growing business.
And when a big shift - like switching over to direct deposit – comes, We have the expertise to manage it so you can focus on your actual business. (Not to mention, we’ll keep you 110% compliant wherever the law stands on e-pay in your neck of the woods.)
Book a free Payroll Tax and Compliance Review with our team to learn how ConnectPay can simplify your payroll.