In a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, results showed that 36.5 percent of the businesses surveyed paid their workers biweekly and 32.4 percent paid workers weekly. Although these are the most common payday frequencies, employers might choose to follow a different schedule for issuing employee paychecks.
See the table for sample pay schedules and read on for more details. Understand how pay schedules work so you can better decide how to best handle your paycheck.
|Pay Schedule Examples
|Pay Schedule Type
|Number of Paychecks/Year
|Weekly Pay Schedule
|Biweekly Pay Schedule
|Every other Friday
|Semimonthly Pay Schedule
|1st and 15th of each month
|Monthly Pay Schedule
|1st of each month
Weekly Pay Schedule
How does weekly pay work? If your employer follows a weekly payroll schedule you can expect a check four times a month — and in some months, five times. The U.S. Department of Labor defines this type of workweek as “fixed, with 168 hours over the course of seven consecutive 24-hour periods.”
Getting paid on a weekly basis is great for employees, but can result in higher payroll costs for employers. Positions that typically get paid weekly include cashier, customer service representative, tech support, housekeeper and Uber driver.
Biweekly Pay Schedule
The answer to “When will I get paid?” is different with a biweekly salary schedule. Although the actual day you’re paid depends on the company’s payroll setup, biweekly pay always occurs on the same day each month, every other week.
For example, if your boss hands you a paycheck on Friday, you can expect a check every other Friday from then on. Many employment opportunities offer biweekly paychecks; for instance, cooks, registered nurses, physical therapists and software engineers typically get paid on this schedule.
Semimonthly Pay Schedule
Although semimonthly pay sounds similar to biweekly, it’s quite different. With this type of pay schedule, you’ll always know the answer to “When is payday?” because semimonthly paychecks are issued on the exact same day each month.
Your employer might opt to pay you via direct deposit or check every first and 15th of the month or on the 10th, 20th and 30th of each month. The only downside to this method of payment is that sometimes payday might fall on a Saturday or Sunday. Types of jobs that pay semimonthly include freelance writer, university employee and schoolteacher.
Monthly Pay Schedule
Monthly pay cycles are cost-effective for employers but this option is not as common as others because employees have to wait so long between checks — they get a total of 12 paychecks each year. It’s a good idea to check the laws in your state regarding paychecks because some states — like California and Illinois — require employers to pay their workers more often than just once per month. Some positions that typically pay monthly include animator, effects artist, lighting engineer, teacher’s assistant and business development expert.
Other Payment Schedules
Companies can use a few additional payment schedules to pay their workers. For instance, a quarterly pay schedule means employees receive a paycheck every three months, a semiannual pay schedule pays employees two paychecks a year and an annual pay schedule pays employees just once a year.
If you have a choice of payment schedules, take a look at when your bills are due and go from there. A weekly salary might be better if your mortgage, electric and cell phone payments are spread out throughout the month. A monthly check, however, would be ideal if the majority of your expenses are incurred on the first of the month and you can make the rest of the money last until the next pay period.
The answer to “When do I get my first paycheck?” could vary depending on your start date. Most first paychecks are issued on time but some companies follow a “lag” payroll, which means you might conclude your biweekly pay period on the scheduled date but not actually get your check until two weeks later. In this case, you would need to be prepared to live without income for a period of four weeks. Always discuss when you can expect your pay with any potential employers before you accept a job so that you can tailor your budget to that schedule, especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.