Lawmakers Should Ensure All Workers Have Access to This Financial Tool | Opinion

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By Fatimah Broxton

Americans are struggling to make ends meet, especially with coronavirus unemployment benefits expiring and our representatives in Washington unable to pass meaningful stimulus benefits. Workers like me living paycheck to paycheque in Essex County need all the financial tools at their disposal to meet their financial commitments. One of those worker-centric tools that everyone should have access to is called Access to earned wages (EWA).

The EWA allows workers to be paid for work they’ve already done without the typical two or four week wait for their paycheck. This is not a payday loan, which means there are no fees, very high interest charges, and no APR. The benefit to workers is clear: They avoid predatory payday loans and a cycle of debt, which means no debt collectors, no fines, and no reporting to credit companies.

The EWA service I use has helped me cover unforeseen expenses, gasoline, groceries, or an invoice that is due before my traditional payday. It helps me stay on a budget and make responsible financial decisions. EWA providers shift the balance of power from employers to workers by freeing people from the traditional payment cycle.

Corn legislation before the New Jersey Assembly (A-3450) risks tipping the playing field in favor of only EWA providers who work with large employers or well-known payroll companies. Lawmakers should oppose this legislation until it is amended to also include all EWA providers who work directly with workers like me. This small change will ensure that small business employees, teachers, professors and countless others can use this same tool, whether they work for a large corporation. A few common sense changes will ensure that everyone follows the same rules and that the government does not pick winners and losers.

I encourage lawmakers to take a break and talk to people like me before voting on this bill. As a single mom, I know the real financial pressures that New Jerseyans face every day. Even before the pandemic, it seems the cost of living continues to rise and big companies aren’t giving you the option to change an invoice’s due date to align it with your paycheck. Just having the freedom to access your income for the work you’ve done can save you from overdraft fees, late fees, or worse.

Support a law and regulation that protect a tool that empowers workers. Assembly members should know that EWA is helping people like me access the $ 27.32 they need to fill up with gas, buy the $ 39.74 for groceries to put on dinner on the table, or set aside savings for an emergency expense. Protect those services that do not require minimum withdrawals and are free of operating costs.

It is not a new tool. EWA has been available to consumers for years, but with increasing economic inequality and insecurity, more workers are using this tool as they look for ways to get past an avalanche of fees and interest. that big financial firms charge people – trapping them in a vicious cycle of debt and dependency.

I hope New Jersey lawmakers will help this hard-working parent and teacher in Cranford by voting to strengthen this legislation. Along with the workers, make sure this legislation includes both Direct-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business EWA providers, allowing people like me to decide when and how to access the wages they already have won.

Fatimah Broxton is an assistant professor at Union County College and a single mother.

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