How Many Pay Periods Are in a Year?

This article breaks down the different types of payroll schedules employers use and how that impacts the total number of pay periods that occur in a year.

2018 HSA contribution limit

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:

  • Semi-Monthly

    Twice a month on two specific days of the month, e.g. 15th and 30th.
    Employees will have 24 pay periods in a year.

  • Bi-Weekly

    Every two weeks on a specific day of the week, e.g. every other Friday.
    Employees will have 26 pay periods in a year.

  • Weekly

    Once a week on a specific day of the week, e.g. each Friday.
    Employees will have 52 pay periods in a year.

  • Monthly

    Once a month on a specific date, e.g. 30th.
    Employees will have 12 pay periods in a year.

Final Tips

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.


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