In today’s digital world, it might surprise you to learn that a large number of businesses — and their employees — still rely on paper paychecks. Even in San Francisco, nearly 30 percent of local businesses and more than 67,000 workers do not use direct deposit. This may sound trivial, but paper paychecks can pose problems for workers and employees alike — problems that can be avoided by switching to an electronic payroll system.
For employers, direct deposit — in which paychecks are deposited directly into employees’ bank accounts — saves money and improves productivity. On average, it costs businesses $3 to produce a paper paycheck and $8 to $10 to replace a lost check. With approximately 4 million paychecks lost nationally every year, switching to direct deposit can deliver significant and often immediate savings. In fact, it’s estimated that businesses using an electronic payroll system can reduce processing, printing and distribution costs by 90 percent — or approximately $176 per employee.
Paper paychecks cause even greater problems for employees. Live checks take time to deposit and more time to clear, delaying access to much-needed income for some employees. For other workers, paper paychecks can necessitate the use of check-cashing services, which can cost families more than $1,000 in fees each year. Workers who cash their paychecks are also more vulnerable to loss and theft. Clearly, helping employees take advantage of direct deposit will help put more local workers in the financial mainstream.
To help empower businesses and their employees to take advantage of direct deposit, the Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with San Francisco and the United Way of the Bay Area to launch CurrenC SF, an innovative new program with the goal of making our city the first in the nation with 100 percent paperless paydays.
The CurrenC SF initiative and its website at www.currencsf.org offer a wide variety of resources for employers wishing to go paperless and increase direct deposit in their organizations. By signing up with the program, employers gain access to a comprehensive implementation tool kit, tips for communicating with employees, guides to high-quality payroll products and services and access to low-cost checking accounts for unbanked employees at local financial institutions. The program also offers payroll workshops, training and expert advice to participating businesses.
As more and more businesses and employees adopt new technologies — in the workplace and at home — a paperless payday in The City is within our reach. The chamber encourages all local businesses to learn more about CurrenC SF and take advantage of the many resources now available to help transition your business — and your employees — to a 100 percent paperless payday.
Steve Falk is president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.