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What is a Pay Period? How Many Pay Periods are in a Year?

A pay period is the amount of days an employee works between paychecks. An individual’s hours are tracked each day during the pay period. At the end of the period, they are paid for their total hours worked. Pay periods are recurring and consistent in length. Common pay periods are weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, and monthly.

Your pay period determines how often your employees are paid, how many paychecks they’ll receive each year, and how much income tax is withheld from each paycheck.

How Many Times Will My Employees Be Paid?

The number of pay periods in a year depends on how frequently you distribute paychecks to your employees:

Weekly

If you pay your employees weekly, there will be 52 pay periods in a year.

If you want to pay your salaried employees weekly, divide their annual salary by 52 to determine how much they’ll make each paycheck.

Biweekly

If you choose a biweekly pay period, you’ll pay your employees once every other week and there will be 26 pay periods in a year.

If you want to pay salaried employees biweekly, divide their annual salary by 26 to determine how much they’ll make each paycheck.

Extra Pay Period

About once every 11 years, you might end up with 27 pay periods if you pay your employees biweekly.

If you pay your hourly employees biweekly, then they’ll just bring home a little extra during the year.

If you pay salaried employees biweekly, then you can just pay them extra these years or adjust their paychecks to make sure they’re still making the same amount as every other year.

If you have any questions, we recommend discussing your options with an attorney who specializes in employment to avoid any legal issues.

Semi-monthly

If you pay your employees semi-monthly (or twice a month),there will be 24 pay periods in a year. It’s common to pay your employees on the 1st and the 16th or on the 15th and the 30th(or 31st) of each month.

Monthly

If you choose to pay your employees monthly, there will be 12 pay periods in a year, and you’ll pay your employees once per month.

What Pay Period is Right for My Business?

There are several things to consider when choosing the right pay period for your business.

  • Weekly pay periods are common if you have hourly employees. You’ll track their hours worked one week at a time, then pay them once per week.
  • Biweekly pay periods are common if you have hourly employees. You’ll track their hours worked two weeks at a time.
  • It’s common to pay salaried employees semi-monthly.
  • Monthly pay periods are great for paying sales commissions.