Once upon a time, back before WWII, workers emerging from factory floors and rising with blackened faces from mines would carry their lunch pails and their weary bodies out to stand in line before a paymaster’s window. There, he doled out their daily earnings. A few dollars in hand, many then trudged, not home, but toward the nearest pub.

Commonly, weary wives worn down from the challenges of survival for themselves and their children waited in vain for husband/cash in their cold-water flats or shacks. It was a common story of the family’s breadwinner spending down his daily earnings on beer.

Not only did this system not work particularly well for the families involved, but the war had taught women a lesson in earning for themselves. More importantly, post-WWII economists didn’t like it. The steady and daily flow of money looked to them like a factor fueling the country’s post-war recession.  

Thus was born a popular (with working-class wives, anyway) the bi-weekly pay system.  

It may have helped the workers and the economy ... or not. No matter. The bi-weekly system for both wage and salary earners stayed with us.

Until now. A new wrinkle on an old system has emerged in some sectors. There’s even an app for that called DailyPay.  

How does it work? Well, on DailyPay, after you sign up, you can apply for and receive (via a digital paymaster) half of what your employer says you earned that day minus fees and deductions. Check it out.

In an economy with workers fleeing low-paying jobs, some employers have been quick to grasp this system as a cheap (for them) incentive. In some sectors, employers are even going DailyPay one better and offering full wages at the end of each shift with no fees and only mandatory deductions, like Social Security. It seems to be working, not just to attract job applicants but to provide incentives for them to put in extra hours or even sign up for more shifts.  

According to a DailyPay survey of their users, 56% of user employers say the app has motivated their workers to do just that.

No wonder. It’s a great carrot. It’s instant gratification. You work for compensation you can hold and see, knowing there’s more to be had ... only a few hours away. Why not take home two carrots instead of one? Unless you have pressing personal problems, like waiting kids, you might jump at the chance.  

It’s apparently been a great incentive for people who’ve been impacted by unexpected expenses during the COVID epidemic. No surprise, the daily pay system has taken off in some sectors, particularly in the nursing home one.

As for the employer, a combination of an inexpensive pay app and an add-on bookkeeping admin system handles the technical and financial sides, taking the place of the old paymaster.

It’s a new twist on an old story. My gramma used to say it. “Really, Patty, there’s nothing new under the sun.” She might have been right. 

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