Georgia employers now have another option for paying their employees: “payroll cards.” Recently, Gov. Deal signed a new law that explicitly allows employers to pay wages using special cards rather than issuing a check or making a direct deposit. Payroll cards are like debit cards that can be used for making purchases or retrieving cash from an ATM. This new method allows employers to cut down on payroll costs (e.g., check printing) and offers a paperless way to pay employees who do not have a bank account or do not qualify for direct deposit. 

The new law, Senate Bill 88, went into effect immediately and amended O.C.G.A. § 34-7-2. The statute, which addresses wage payment, previously made reference to payment via check, cash, and direct deposit. The newly amended version gives Georgia employers the express option to utilize the payroll cards. Employers are not required to switch to the new payroll card method, and can continue to pay employees with cash, check, and direct deposit (with the employee’s consent).

Senate Bill 88 defines “payroll card account” as an account that is directly or indirectly established through an employer and makes electronic fund transfers of salary or wages at regularly recurring intervals. The payroll card account can be managed by the employer offering the program, a bank, or a third-party payroll processor on the employer’s behalf. 

The law imposes certain requirements on employers who want to pay employees using payroll cards. For starters, the employer must offer a “written explanation of any fees associated with the payroll card account offered to the employee.” For example, an employer may require a nominal fee for replacing lost cards. The explanation of fees must be provided to current employees 30 days prior to the date the payroll card account becomes available and at the time of hiring for new employees. In addition to providing a “written explanation” of fees, employers must also provide employees with a form allowing them to “opt out” of receiving payment via payroll card account. An “opt out” form must be made generally available to employees. Lastly, employees must be given the ability to later opt out of using the payroll card account by submitting a written request for payment by check or direct deposit. 

The amendment does not change the requirement that employers pay employees the full amount of net wages due at least twice a month on designated pay days. Accordingly, payroll card programs must give employees the opportunity to access their full net wages, in cash, each pay period without cost.

Laws surrounding payroll cards vary from state to state. Some states explicitly allow for them while others remain silent on the matter.