Earned wage access: What is it and why should you care about it?

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about earned wage access. It’s a benefit growing in popularity due to the positive outcomes it provides for both businesses and their employees.

Although we offer many different solutions at Wagestream, earned wage access is a key part of what we do so we thought we’d explain it in more detail.   

What you’ll learn

  • What is earned wage access
  • What does it mean for employees
  • What does it mean for employers

What is earned wage access

Earned wage access or earned salary access schemes (ESAS) quite simply allow employees to access their wages as they’re earned. At Wagestream, we only ever provide access to wages that have been earned, so there is no borrowing or interest charged. Other solutions can be slightly different. 

Running payroll frequently is not really an effective option for many organisations. These solutions provide a way for employees to benefit from increased liquidity without disrupting internal processes or creating more work for the organisation. 

What earned wage access means for:


Throughout most of the world employees are paid monthly. This is just something we’ve all come to accept, but when you actually look at it, there are many reasons why this system is outdated. 


This bit is simple really, you’ve earned it so why shouldn’t you have access to it. Getting paid as you work means you have the liquidity to do the things you need, without having to worry about it. 

We’ve all been in that situation where an emergency has arisen but it’s still 7 days until payday. If you’ve worked enough to cover it then it’s frustrating that you can’t use your own money to cover it. 

The monthly pay cycle exposes 3.1 million people in the UK to payday lenders every year. 

Read our report on the hidden costs of the monthly pay cycle.

ESAS provide employees with the liquidity to make their wages work for them and avoid expensive forms of credit.

We’ve found it to be a powerful tool at Wagestream.

42% of our users avoid turning to a payday lender 

37% of our users avoid going into their overdraft

65% of our users cover an unexpected bill with their own wages 


Earned wage access is not just beneficial to employees, it also makes good business sense. By helping your employees to improve their financial situation and feel empowered with their finances, you can improve many aspects of your business. 

Improved retention

By supporting the financial resilience of their staff, organisations working with Wagestream have seen up to a 16% reduction in people leaving their business. Through offering access to earned wages, you’re offering something that many others don’t have, meaning employees are more likely to stay loyal for longer. 

What’s more, providing this service means your employees are likely to feel more positive about you as an employer. We know that 82% of Wagestream users feel more positive about their employer through access to earned wages. 

Easier recruitment

The link between better benefits and hiring the best talent has long been understood. That’s why we recently did some research to understand the benefit of mentioning an earned wage access schemes in job ads. We found that clients mentioning access to earned wages with Wagestream were able to fill their vacancies 27% faster than those that didn’t. 

Read our full report on our findings here. 

Improving your brand 

Many brands have suffered at the hands of poor staff treatment, especially during the aftermath of the outbreak. Brands who get staff reward and recognition right, on the other hand, such as John Lewis, are renowned for doing so and have a strong level of trust with the customer. 

Looking after your staff will help you to strengthen your employer brand and therefore your overall brand recognition. 

The future of earned wage access

More and more organisations are now waking up to the importance of earned wage access. A report by Gartner suggests that, by 2023, 20% of businesses in the US who pay the majority of staff hourly will deploy flexible earned wage access solutions*, leaving the UK behind in terms of pay innovation. Wagestream is already working with 100s brands across the UK and globally and only sees that trend rising. 

*Gartner report: Empower Workers and Energize Your Employment Value Proposition With Flexible Earned Wage Access, July 2019

A recent report by The Resolution Foundation outlined that ‘the huge growth in payday lending, indicates that when workers are paid can matter’ and that ‘workers should have the right to choose how regularly they get paid’. With Chancellor Rishi Sunak set to look over a plan put forward to let workers draw pay as soon as they’ve earned it, earned wage access schemes may become a requirement moving forwards. 

To understand more about how earned wage access works, get in touch with Wagestream.