How Many Pay Periods In A Year? How Do You Calculate The Pay Period?

While setting up a business, the payroll process must be informed and consistent. Keep reading to understand payroll-related things, mainly how many pay periods are in a year.

In a year, there can be fifty-two (52) pay periods, or at least twelve (12), depending on the employer and working in any state with specific payday requirements. Employers must keep a reasonable balance between the payroll running cost and the financial needs of the employees.

As an employer, one needs to ensure that they must work according to Federal laws to ensure punctual employee payments. It may include Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) and standard state laws.

According to the Office of Human Resource Management, pay periods start on a Sunday and end on Saturday after two weeks, which makes 26 pay periods in a year. Official pay days alternate Thursdays, whereas some financial institutions credit your accounts earlier.

Payroll can be a daunting and time-consuming aspect of managing any business; therefore, it is critical to determine how you calculate the pay period and the most reasonable pay periods for your employees. We will guide you in figuring out all the related questions and complexities.

What are pay periods?

Pay periods could be the time frame of employees’ hours for calculating employee wages and paying them in terms of a paycheck. Federal laws require businesses to pay the employees on their regular payday; however, they do not specify the frequency of pay periods.

Pay periods can have different lengths, with recurring periods beginning the day after the previous one ends to count the total working time they have to compensate for. Several factors determine pay periods, including payment schedules, yearly paychecks, expected wages, and the money the company takes out on each paycheck in the name of employee benefits and payroll taxes.

Every business and employer must understand that paying employees consistently according to the set schedule is essential, bringing many benefits. Following the proper procedure and paying your employees on an agreed-upon plan will help the business recruit and retain a talented workforce and prevent legal claims.

Remember that missing a scheduled payment date, even for a few days, can lead to Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) complaints. Such allegations may lead to hefty legal penalties under wage violation rules, including double back wages.

One must have a grip on strategic considerations for the ideal payroll schedule to set the frequency. Employees usually value shorter pay periods, and each payroll costs your administrative business hours or vendor expenses. Therefore, an employer must balance the administrative costs, manage the goals, and find the right frequency for the business.

Pay periods in American states

Pay periods could be weekly, biweekly, monthly, or semi-monthly. Typically, states do not accept bi-monthly pay schedules, although semi-monthly is acceptable, and some states have more firm requirements. American states have set their standards through payday frequency laws.

For instance, in a particular state, businesses are bound to pay weekly, and if they want more extended pay periods, they need to get approval from the labour commission. One must verify their state laws when planning payroll for their businesses.

All the states in the United States have their standards about pay periods, and payday laws vary from state to state. For the best payroll decisions for the company and employees, the employer must balance the legal requirements and the company’s financial patterns.

Pay practices of the employee experience are an essential part of a job offer. Paying employees is more critical than any administrative decision, as it affects the ability to choose and retain great performers.

Types of pay periods

The number of pay periods in a year depends on the pay schedule, among several options. However, the best plan for the employees may not be the best for the employer, so one must understand the pay schedule thoroughly to get the exact idea.

There could be several pay periods, such as daily, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. However, some standard pay periods are as follows:

  • Weekly
  • Bi-weekly
  • Semi-Monthly
  • Monthly


Over 34 percent of employers use this type of pay schedule, making it the second-most standard pay period. With this schedule, the employer has to pay more frequently, like 52 times a year, but a leap year can come with an extra pay period making it 53 weeks in a year.


  • The best option for hourly employees.
  • Employees love this pay schedule due to its frequency, as it will enhance their productivity and efficiency at work.
  • Helps in employees’ finances and cash flow.


  • This type of payroll schedule could be much more expensive as most payroll software will charge you much, even if you sometimes need to pay additional charges.
  • Additionally, it would be the most consuming as it takes much time to process payrolls weekly.


A biweekly payroll schedule means that businesses pay their employees every other week. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is the most popular pay schedule, as most U.S. employers follow this model. One can receive 26 paychecks annually through this pay schedule, but sometimes it can be 27 pay periods.


  • The pay plan businesses consider the best option for hourly employees.
  • This pay schedule is an excellent way to save your precious time, as you will be processing your salary every other week.
  • Receiving paychecks more often in a month will increase punctuality and productivity at work.
  • It can significantly reduce payroll costs compared to a weekly plan.


  • Employers must pay additional wages if there are 27 pay periods, although it happens once in 11 years.
  • It occurs once every two weeks, but sometimes it appears three times a month. However, it happens only in two months of the year, but employers must be financially prepared to pay their employees greatly in a couple of months.
  • Sometimes the first and the last pay period lie in different months, so payroll deductions are complex.


Here is the answer to what the pay period is twice a month. With a semi-monthly pay schedule, employers pay their workers twice a month, resulting in 24 paychecks annually. In this method, there are set dates for the employees to get the paychecks, making them confident to handle payments.


  • Employees will receive 24 paychecks per year and two monthly paychecks on the same date, making them plan their finances.
  • Suitable option for salaried employees as you do not need to track their working hours.
  • Simple yet consistent payroll schedule as there would be no inconvenience during leap years.
  • It may come with less payroll processing cost than other pay periods.
  • It will help to calculate accurate contracted benefits to pay in a semi-monthly payroll schedule.


  • It is challenging to calculate overtime.
  • Sometimes the exact date of payday falls on weekends, bank holidays, or national holidays, which can cause inconvenience for the employees.
  • It is easier to implement when there is an exemption for employees.


Frequent pay periods could be costly and difficult to handle so they can use a monthly payment schedule. However, this pay schedule is less common, and only 5 percent of U.S. businesses use this method. Employees will receive 12 paychecks per year. It is less popular as employees need help to plan their monthly finances.


  • Businesses need to run payroll once a month.
  • Employees will know the exact day of pay every month.
  • Sometimes it can be easier for the employee to manage the finances as they know the exact date.
  • Most suitable for salaried employees.
  • This method of a paycheck can save a lot of time and money.
  • It comes with easy calculations and deductions for employer taxes.
  • If there are many sales agents, this method would be the most suitable as paying commissions within the monthly pay period would be easy.


  • Due to a fixed salary date, the employer has to adjust the salary day earlier if the selected day is on holiday for the convenience of their employees.
  • It can be challenging for hourly employees.
  • Employees will need help with their finances as they get a salary once a month.

Which factors must one consider before choosing a pay period for their business?

One must consider the following essential factors when choosing a pay period for their workforce.

  • Employee preferences
  • Payroll system
  • Cash flow and budgeting
  • Compliance with laws
  • Employee schedules
  • Use time-tracking tools

Employee preferences

Mostly, hourly employees or those working on commissions will prefer more frequent pay periods. In comparison, salaried employees may choose better benefits if there are set days in a month for their wages.

Payroll system

Weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly pay periods require a systematic payroll process compared to monthly and quarterly pay periods.

Cash flow and budgeting

Frequent pay periods can be helpful for employees to manage their finances; however, it can affect the company’s cash flow. Monthly pay periods are helpful for businesses to manage their finances, but it is unsuitable for employees as they need to manage their budget and finances.

Compliance with laws

The payment period should comply with state and federal labour laws. Check out the State Department of Labor to learn the time-tracking regulations which can affect the pay period.

Employee schedules

Suppose any business has many employees who vary in their weekly work schedules. It would be more practical for the employer to choose a weekly or biweekly pay period.

Use time-tracking tools.

Specific tools can track employee hours and overtime, influencing the best work schedule for you. Manual timesheets could be unreliable and inaccurate, creating issues during payroll processing, especially for remote employees.

If you use short pay periods, there could be correcting errors which can lead to a lot of administrative work. Therefore, a time-tracking tool will provide more accurate and reliable data, and one can get more flexibility in choosing a pay schedule.

What pay period is every two weeks?

The pay period is the time that each pays slipcovers. Picking the wrong payment schedule can harm your business by creating payroll issues and the financial stability of your employees.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bi-weekly payroll is the most common payroll schedule. Any employer can choose from various pay periods; therefore, they must know the key considerations to decide the pay period schedule.

How many pay periods in a year, bi-weekly in 2023?

A biweekly pay period is when the employer or business works every other week on a specific day of the week. For instance, in a bi-weekly pay schedule, the company will choose a day to pay their employees; often, it would be a Friday. As every calendar year has fifty-two weeks and every two weeks pay period schedule, there could be twenty-six (26) paychecks annually.

Typically, there are four weeks in a month and two weeks pay schedule, resulting in two employee paychecks per month. Any employee usually receives three salaries in a month under this schedule.

Benefits of a biweekly pay period

If you want to know the pay period twice a month, then it is a bi-weekly pay period. This type of pay schedule benefits employees and Human Resource Management. For employees, it may help them budget their finances and feel more secure with a set payday, which could be any day of the week.

Additionally, for HR, a biweekly pay period can save time and reduce the chances of making payroll errors. It will help to calculate overtime pay while taking help from the worksheet.

Which departments use a biweekly pay period?

More than 43 percent of businesses in the United States follow the biweekly pay period. According to the Department of Labor, there are a few following industries that follow biweekly pay schedules:

  • Information
  • Education
  • Health services
  • Leisure and hospitality
  • Construction, trade, and manufacturing

How many pay periods in a year, biweekly in 2023?

By 2023, employees will receive 26 paychecks if they follow a biweekly pay schedule. According to an accurate estimate, the employees will receive two salaries in ten months and three in the year’s remaining two months. It usually depends on the dates of check distribution.

What is the difference between biweekly and semimonthly pay periods?

A semi-monthly pay period means two monthly pay periods generally ending on the 15th and 30th or the 5th or 20th of the month.

The primary difference between bimonthly and semi-monthly payrolls is their occurring dates. Biweekly dates occur every other week, whereas semi-monthly pay occurs on two specific month dates.

In biweekly pay, there are 26 pay periods per year; in comparison, in semi-monthly, there are 24 pay periods per year. Biweekly pay is every two weeks, and overtime is easier to compute, but in semi-monthly, employees get the pay on specific dates. However, the biweekly payroll cost is potentially higher, and bookkeeping is more complicated due to additional pay periods.

Difference between biweekly and bimonthly payrolls

Biweekly pay schedules can be confusing with other popular pay schedules; one must understand that there is a difference between semi-monthly and bimonthly, and one should not confuse them as they vary technically.

How do you calculate pay periods in a biweekly pay schedule?

Biweekly calculations are accessible for both hourly and salaried employees. Your payroll software automates them for you. One can deal with the following steps to calculate the biweekly wages of employees.

On an hourly basis

  • Pull the employee’s total hours worked during the biweekly pay period.
  • Make sure to incorporate paid vacation hours or paid time off.
  • Add working hours during the pay period.
  • Multiply this sum by the employee’s hourly wage.
  • After getting the employee’s gross wages, deduct any withholdings to arrive at the employee’s net wages and find the ultimate employee pay.

For salaried employees

The following steps will help to calculate biweekly pay:

  • Use payroll software to confirm the employee’s salary.
  • As there are twenty-six biweekly pay periods, divide the salary by 26.
  • After dividing the amount, you will get the gross wages for this paycheck.
  • Make deductions; after that, you will get the net pay, which is actual pay.

Pros and cons of the biweekly pay period

A biweekly pay period is popular with small businesses as it has numerous advantages. However, like any other plan, a biweekly pay schedule has limitations; we will discuss them in detail.

Benefits of a biweekly pay period

  • After choosing a biweekly payment plan, you must run payroll every two weeks. Traditionally, these checks arrive on Friday, and one can run payroll far enough in advance to work with the Friday deadline. So there is always predictability for employees that they will receive paychecks regularly, which will help them to make their budget easily.
  • Although these kinds of pay periods could be far more challenging in calculations than weekly paychecks, this plan helps you make overtime pay quickly by calculating overtime hours for two consecutive weeks.
  • As this schedule will come up with a biweekly pay schedule, therefore, bringing a more significant number of monthly paychecks than semi-monthly schedules. It results in a more substantial cash flow, making it convenient to pay bills, do groceries, and even make some savings.

Disadvantages of a biweekly paycheck

On the other hand, biweekly pay periods have disadvantages, making employers opt for alternatives.

  • Paychecks come every two Fridays, but there could be differences in due dates if they lie on weekends and bank holidays. Variability in pay dates can bring inconvenience sometimes.
  • Increased cash flow can cost any business more because some payroll services cost you more when you run payroll. Due to payroll costs, many companies choose semi-monthly and monthly payment schedules.
  • Usually, there are two paychecks in an average month. Still, it could be three in a few months, and monthly deductions could be three, not two, making dedication calculations complex and challenging. In comparison, monthly paychecks come with consistent assumptions per paycheck, reducing the potential for error and stress.

Payroll software is the easiest way to run a biweekly payroll schedule, so choose the software that allows payroll unlimited times without additional charges. Moreover, digitalizing the frequent pay schedule as a paperless payroll system will be beneficial.

How many pay periods are in a year?

We know better now that the number of pay periods in a year depends on the payroll schedule entirely that any business or employer uses.

Pay period Pay frequency Paychecks per year
Weekly Once a week 52
Bi-weekly Once every other week 26 (sometimes 27)
Semi-monthly Twice a month 24
Monthly Once a month 12
Quarterly After every three months 4

What is the difference between a pay period and a pay date?

A pay period is the length of time during which someone works, and a pay date is the day the employee receives their paychecks. A pay period is the time frame in which any employee will work and get the payments. The pay period could be any time for budgeting, including any onboarding or training time, as we typically refer to their numbers.

As depicted by its name, a pay date is when companies pay employees for their work. In the United States, usually, Friday is the most common payday.

Processing payroll can take a few days; therefore, the last day of the pay period is different from when employees receive payments from the pay period. The pay date of the current pay period could be the last day of that pay period.

Laws about pay periods

Federal law does not force employers to adopt a specific pay period that business owners must pay their employees’ wages at specified times with frequent intervals. Although some states have laws to ensure the salary process is fair and businesses should pay their workers frequently.

Overtime pay

According to the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), employees working 40 hours per week can get compensation of 1.5 times the employee’s regular pay rate for any extra hour. Whereas, some states have additional requirements, and employees get exemption from overtime pay.

What type of pay periods should any business use?

There is no particular answer to which kind of pay period would best suit the business and employees. Every pay period has advantages and disadvantages, so you must get intensive information regarding your business requirements, company size, number of employees, and state laws.

To determine how many pay periods are in a year for your business, one must consider the company’s cash flow and learn that when in a month, your business will have enough revenue at hand for the employee’s payroll. One must have payment set for high cash flow times.

One can also get assistance from the accounting department to determine the best payroll completion period. In addition, keep your company size in mind to calculate the monthly pay period.

Suppose you are running a small business with a hundred employees or less; a bi-weekly pay schedule may work best. On the other hand, if the company has more than a hundred employees, a semi-monthly or monthly pay period will work better. Small businesses must also remember the payroll runs while choosing pay period frequency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can we choose any day of the week as a pay period date?

One can choose any day of the week as a regular payday, but ensure you follow up the ample payments on that day. If any business fails to meet the pay period, there would be FLSA complaints, fines, and some state law penalties.

Can I change my business pay period during the year?

Yes, anyone can technically change the pay period during the year, but they need to follow the specific law of regulations set under the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA). If you are planning to change the company’s pay period, first, you need to give a written notice to your employees before a month of implementation of such a plan.

According to laws, one must pay employees following the old schedule unless the new one gets in and comes into effect properly. Make sure the payments of your employees are clear.

How can we keep track of employees’ pay periods?

If you feel that the business needs to be more significant to keep an in-house payroll manager, you can get the help of payroll services. Such payroll services will help employers track employees’ hours and set automated payments and payroll activities under rules and regulations.

Some payroll services provide HR and Accounting specialists with employee onboarding, benefits, taxes, overtime, paid time off, and other factors affecting payroll.


Knowing how many pay periods in a year could be as many as 52 and as few as 12. it is essential to remember that setting up the payroll process on payday must be a sure thing. Employers must make the payroll system so strong that payday must be something that employees can bank on.

Regardless of your pay period, remember that your employees deserve to get wages promptly, accurately, and without complications. Adopt a plan that can quickly add several employees, run unlimited payrolls, print out checks, and pay employers’ taxes conveniently and accurately.

How you calculate pay periods is essential, as pay period calculations depend on business size and resources. Various businesses and employers outsource a payroll firm to assist with the payments.

The difference between a payday and a pay period is quite simple, as a pay period is when you work between the payments you receive. At the same time, the pay date or payday is when you receive your wages. Usually, companies choose bi-weekly pay periods on Fridays, which can vary depending on pay period schedules.