How Many Pay Periods Are In A Year?

When you’re starting a job, the most important details you want to know are all about the money. How much money will you earn? Will there be opportunities to earn more? But also… how often will you be paid? That last question depends on how many pay periods are in a year.

Cartoon woman searching on computer "How many pay periods in a year"

Pay Periods In A Typical Year

There are typically 52 work weeks in a year but the amount of pay periods depends on how often the company you are working for does their payroll (ex. Weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) The pay periods in a year are as follows:

  • Weekly: 52 pay periods per year (sometimes 53)
  • Biweekly: 26 pay periods per year (sometimes 27)
  • Monthly: 12 pay periods per year
  • Semimonthly payments: 24 pay periods per year

What Is A Pay Period?

A pay period is a specified time frame the companies use to calculate their payroll and pay their employees. These pay periods are typically every week (weekly), every other week (biweekly), every month (monthly), or twice per month (semimonthly).

According to the Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act, “Wages required by the FLSA are due on the regular payday for the pay period covered.” Despite requiring that the companies pay regularly, it does not specify a specific time period and is up to the employers’ discretion. 

However, some states do have payday requirements. For example, employers in Connecticut must pay their employees weekly; nevertheless, approval can be granted for up to a monthly pay period when granted by a labor commissioner.

How To Calculate The Number Of Pay Periods In A Year

Now, you’re probably wondering why there are sometimes more pay periods. That all comes down to how pay periods are calculated. 

It is commonly known that there are 52 weeks in a year, but multiplying by 7 days, that only comes to 364 days. In reality, there are 52.143 weeks (365 days) and 52.286 weeks in a leap year (366 days)

That means that 1-2 days occur more than the 52 times in a year and if your pay period ends on one of those, you will have an extra that year. Confused? Let’s look at this picture:

2021 pay periods calendar

If your pay period ends on a Friday, there were 53 weekly pay periods during 2021 because there were 53 Fridays. For a biweekly pay period, it depends on if the first pay period ended on the 1st or the 8th. An easy way to know if you will have an extra pay period is knowing the day the year starts. 

A typical year starts and ends on the same day. In a leap year, there are two extra days that can give you another pay period.

How many paychecks do you get in 2023?

This year is typical. 2023 started on a Sunday so it will have 52 weekly pay periods and paychecks, 26 biweekly, 12 monthly, and 26 semimonthly.

Pay Period Vs Payday

As said before, the pay period is the time frame that the company uses to calculate the paycheck; however, the paycheck does not get sent out that same day. The employee’s payday takes a few days due to the time needed to calculate and verify timesheets.

Using the picture above of 2021 pay periods, for example, work performed on a pay period from August 1st to 14th could be paid on August 20th. That means that if you had a payday on January 1st, the compensation was for work performed in the previous year.

It is also possible to have a different time frame for your pay period and paydays. For example, there are 12 military pay periods in a year, but military members are paid semimonthly on approximately the 1st and 15th.

By knowing the amount of pay periods and the work hours in a year, you can approximate how much your paycheck and salary per year will be.

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