Is it time to be more creative with payroll?

Alternative methods of payroll such as early wage access (EWA) could be a solution to the UK's cost of living crisis.

EWA, also referred to as on-demand pay, instant pay, or the government-issued term of an Employer Salary Access Scheme (ESAS) is adopted by some UK employers to avoid them falling into in-work poverty. 

Although pay cycles are usually linked to a company's financial cycle, Dean Corbett, chief people officer of online training provider Avado, says there could be scope for employees to have more control over when they're paid in the future. 

"With the boom in hybrid working and personalisation, perhaps more autonomy and choice will be given to people," he told HR magazine. "I can see a future where financial personalisation, much like learning, revolves around our co-worker’s schedule."

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However, Corbett warned there was no quick-fix.

He said: "In the short term, given the rise in living costs and the impact inflation is having on businesses, I don’t believe there is an easily administered fix that balances support for people and their employers. It would depend so much on a company’s structure.

"Working practices like this further highlight the need for organisations to scrap siloed working and encourage departments to come together to work with their people."

Steve Tonks, senior vice president EMEA at workplace software provider WorkForce Software, however suggested EWA could benefit low income workers by giving them earlier access to their monthly wage.

He told HR magazine: “With a third of low-income households struggling to pay bills every month, EWA ensures that workers can better manage their cashflow if a sudden bill arrives and avoid high interest payday loans. This is vital in lunar pay cycles, where there could be up to eight weeks elapsed time between when hours were worked and when payment is received. 

“EWA shouldn’t be a ‘nice-to-have’. Instead, it should be viewed as an ongoing CSR goal for organisations, supported by education and advice on money management.”

EWA payroll systems could also be easy for HR to implement he said.

“Fortunately, the technology behind EWA is quite simple. It involves capturing an employee’s daily worked hours and processing payments based on the rules that apply to that day.

"This will not only shorten the time gap between when hours are worked and when employees are paid, but also streamline and simplify payroll operations. This should be welcome change for employers, who waste over 100 hours manually managing their payroll each year."