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Pay period

A pay period is a set schedule on which employees are paid and employers run payroll. There are no federal regulations on scheduling pay periods, but some state departments of labor do set requirements. Some employers process payroll on a certain day of the month — the 1st or 15th, often — but it is more common for pay dates to be tied to a certain day of the week, usually a Friday. There are multiple types of pay period, each of which has merits depending on your industry and payroll system. The most common kinds of pay schedule include:

  • Weekly pay periods - Employee receives 52 paychecks per year. Often used for paying hourly employees.
  • Bi-weekly pay periods - Employee receives 26 paychecks per year. Used for paying hourly and salaried employees.
  • Semi-monthly (or twice-a-month) pay periods - Employee receives 24 paychecks per year. Often used for paying salaried employees.
  • Monthly pay periods - Employee receives 12 paychecks per year. Used mainly for paying salaried employees.

Depending on your pay period type, some years may also be “leap years” — a year with an extra pay period for certain employees.

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