CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today signed a law to protect the increasing number of workers across Illinois who receive their compensation through a payroll card. The measure, drafted by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, provides important protections for employees by limiting fees that can be imposed on payroll cards. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all Illinois workers are treated fairly and receive the compensation they deserve.
“We need to make sure that all Illinois residents are treated fairly when it comes to receiving their hard-earned pay,” Governor Quinn said. “No one should be penalized by unnecessary fees when they are trying to collect their wages. I applaud Attorney General Madigan for pushing this common-sense legislation to protect the hardworking men and women of our state. Not only are we fighting to raise the minimum wage in Illinois, but now employees will have the choice between proven and safe ways of receiving all the wages they rightfully deserve.”
“Before today, there were better protections on gift cards than payroll cards in Illinois,” Attorney General Madigan said. “But with this new law, which will be the strongest of its kind in the country, Illinois employees will no longer have to pay just to get their pay.”
Payroll cards are an alternative way to pay employees who do not have traditional banking services. Rather than issuing a paper check, employers provide employees with a payroll card that gets loaded with the employee’s wages every pay period. Payroll cards look and operate much like debit cards, and can be used to make withdrawals from an ATM or to make purchases at a store.
The Attorney General’s Office began investigating employers’ use of payroll cards after receiving complaints from Illinois workers and uncovered a number of harmful practices, including excessive, unreasonable fees that were attached to the cards; $5 account inactivity fees; $3 fees for monthly statements; and 50-cent fees for point-of-sale transactions. Many employers have implemented responsible payroll card programs, but some employers are forcing workers to use payroll cards and failing to provide them with any information about how to use the cards, including how to avoid fees.
House Bill 5622, sponsored by State Representative Arthur Turner (D-Chicago) and State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), ensures that employees are not required to accept a payroll card and can choose another form of payment, such as a paper check or direct deposit. For employees who do accept a payroll card, the new law sets limits on fees and requires employers to clearly provide the terms of their payroll card program.
The new law ensures employees can access their wages without incurring unreasonable fees. This includes a prohibition on fees for overdrafts, transaction history requests and purchases. The law also limits fees for declined transactions and card inactivity. More than 20 states already have similar protections for employees and payroll cards. The law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.
“This is a simple matter of justice for low-wage workers,” Senator Raoul said. “The men and women who form the backbone of our economy deserve informed choices, fair treatment and a fair wage, and this law protects those rights.”
Throughout his career, Governor Quinn has been a strong advocate for all workers. In 2013, the Governor signed legislation that protects Illinois workers’ pay by fighting questionable business practices, particularly in the construction industry. The laws deal with the misclassification of workers and the attempts of employers to avoid paying state employment taxes and premiums.
The Governor fought for and signed a law amending the Equal Pay Act to give victims more time to address issues of underpayment and is leading the charge to increase the state’s minimum wage to at least $10 per hour.
In his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Quinn proposed a minimum of two days of earned sick leave per year for 2.5 million Illinois workers who have no sick leave.
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