WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators say companies cannot require employees to receive their pay on debit cards, citing complaints from workers of high and unexpected fees on the cards.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a bulletin warning employers against using only so-called payroll cards to pay workers. The agency said that by law workers must be able to choose how they receive their wages. If they choose to be paid with payroll cards, they are entitled to protections such as disclosure of fees, it said.
Complaints received included fees for withdrawing cash and checking card balances. Critics say payroll cards with high fees mean that some workers are essentially making less than minimum wage.
A woman who worked at a McDonald's in northeastern Pennsylvania filed a class-action lawsuit in June against the owners of 16 McDonald's Corp. restaurants in the area, challenging their use of payroll cards and protesting fees.
Attorneys for the restaurant owners have said the debit cards are "the functional equivalent" of cash or checks and that the employees consented to the payment method.
Nearly 4 million U.S. households, or 3.2 percent, have someone who receives wages on a payroll card, according to a 2011 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The cards are often used by people without a bank account.
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