Pay periods are a defined amount of time for which an employee will receive a paycheck. Pay periods determine:
The frequency and schedule by which employers run their payroll and pay their employees.
The frequency and number of paychecks received by employees in a month.
The amount deducted from each paycheck to pay for benefits.
Common payroll periods include:
Twice a month on two specific days of the month, e.g. 15th and 30th.
Employees will have 24 pay periods in a year.
Every two weeks on a specific day of the week, e.g. every other Friday.
Employees will have 26 pay periods in a year.
Once a week on a specific day of the week, e.g. each Friday.
Employees will have 52 pay periods in a year.
Once a month on a specific date, e.g. 30th.
Employees will have 12 pay periods in a year.
The most common payroll period schedules are semi-monthly, bi-weekly, and weekly. Be sure to check with your state laws because they may require a minimum pay period. It’s also worth noting and communicating what goes into an employee paystub.
This article was published on September 1, 2015 and updated on October 10, 2018.