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Bi-weekly payroll key information

Is bi-weekly payroll the same as semi-monthly payroll?

What are the advantages of bi-weekly payroll?

What are the disadvantages of bi-weekly payroll?

Should you use bi-weekly payroll at your company?

What is bi-weekly payroll

Biweekly payroll is a payroll schedule in which employees receive paychecks every other week, on a specific day of the week. Employees on bi-weekly payroll often get paid every other Friday (or a different day of the week), regardless of when one month ends and the next begins.

Bi-weekly payroll key information

  • Each year has 26 bi-weekly paydays per year except leap years, which have 27 paydays

  • Workers receive two paychecks per month, 10 months out of the year, and three paychecks the other two months

  • Bi-weekly pay can come any day of the week: even if holidays or third monthly paychecks disrupt the schedule, it’s easy to switch the regular day for another temporarily

Is bi-weekly payroll the same as semi-monthly payroll?

People often assume bi-weekly payroll is the same as semi-monthly payroll, but they have a slight difference: bi-weekly means every other week, while a semi-monthly pay period means twice a month.

What are the advantages of bi-weekly payroll?

Consistency: Pay dates are fixed, and both employer and recipient know when the paycheck will arrive. Creating budgeting plans is easier with a stable and frequent money flow. This is especially useful for freelancers and small business owners, who may depend on receiving and processing the payment more frequently.

More frequent paychecks: Receiving a payment notification is a great morale boost, motivates workers to do their best, and helps them build trust with their employer. A bi-weekly paycheck may also feel like a bonus from time to time: twice a year, employees receive three paychecks per month, the third one feeling like an extra paycheck.

Easier to calculate overtime: Hourly workers can calculate their overtime pay easier and receive bonuses for overtime hours with each payment.

Fewer payroll errors: A stable payroll calendar means fewer mistakes for those running payroll, whether a payroll provider or your human resources department. 

What are the disadvantages of bi-weekly payroll?

Smaller paychecks: Thanks to the pay cycle being shorter, paychecks will bring less money, although more frequently. Annual salary and hourly rate don’t change, but seeing “less money” on a paycheck may make workers think they’re earning less.

Added complexity to payroll processing: In the event of two monthly payments spanning across two months (because of holidays or weekends), it isn’t as easy to calculate monthly payroll deductions.

Increased payroll costs: If you’re outsourcing payroll services that charge you for each payday, a bi-weekly pay schedule may be more expensive because there are several more paydays than semi-monthly pay.

Should you use bi-weekly payroll at your company?

Bi-weekly payroll is the most popular pay frequency in the US and is generally a good option for businesses, especially those with a mix of hourly and salaried employees.

But just because bi-weekly pay periods are the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best payroll system for your business. Your employees’ preferences, HR needs, and payroll software’s pricing and administrative requirements should dictate how you pay employees.

Alternative pay periods include:

  • Semi-monthly/ bi-monthly payroll

  • Monthly payroll

  • Weekly payroll

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