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Roundup: Firms can't use only debit cards to pay employees; U.S. businesses boost stockpiles as sales pick up

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Companies cannot force workersto be paid via debit cards, feds say

Federal regulators said 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 their 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.

Businesses boost stockpiles as sales pick up

Businesses restocked their shelves and warehouses in July at the fastest pace since January as their sales rose, a hopeful sign for economic growth. Business stockpiles increased 0.4 percent in July from June, the Commerce Department said Friday, after ticking up just 0.1 percent the previous month. Total business sales rose 0.6 percent in July, up from just 0.2 percent in June. Rising stockpiles can be a good sign for the economy because they suggest companies expect greater sales. Greater inventory building also means businesses ordered more goods, boosting factory production and economic growth. And higher sales mean that companies are less likely to be stuck with excess goods.

— Staff and wire reports

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