Overview: Direct deposit has become the most popular way to pay wages due to a variety of advantages that make it a much more attractive option than paying wages via cash or check. Many employees have come to expect direct deposit to be a payment option because it is safe and convenient. Employers often prefer it because it may reduce paperwork and costs, and some have now gone a step further and made it a condition of employment.
Employers must comply with both federal and state laws in this area. The applicable federal regulations permit employers to require employees to use direct deposit as a condition of employment so long as the employees are permitted to choose where they want their funds to be deposited. Federal regulations also permit employers to require direct deposit at a certain financial institution only if they give employees the option to be paid by other means.
State direct deposit laws and regulations are generally more protective of employees. When state and federal laws conflict the general rule is that state law must be followed if it is more protective of employees' rights. Thus, multistate employers must check both federal and state regulations before making their direct deposit program mandatory. In most states, the following additional conditions must be met before an employer can pay employees via direct deposit:
Author: Rena Pirsos, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include new paid sick leave requirements in Chicago and Cook County, effective July 1, 2017, and the forthcoming Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming law change permitting biweekly wage payments.
Updated to reflect the permanent implementation of the requirement to pay exempt employees at least once a month under the Wage Theft Prevention Clarification and Overtime Fairness Amendment Act of 2016, effective April 7, 2017.
Updated to include a new law permitting wage payment by payroll debit card, effective May 5, 2017.
Updated to include the Wage Theft Transparency Act, effective April 13, 2017.
Updated to reflect a forthcoming change in pay frequency for service employees.
Updated to include a new St. Louis minimum wage notice requirement, effective February 28, 2017.
Federal and state laws affecting payment of employee wages by direct deposit.