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November 30, 2016

How often should I pay my employees

How often should I pay my employees?

How often should I pay my employees? What kind of schedule is easy and convenient for my employees and myself the employer?

There's a big secret you might be missing out on. 

Ready to hear it? 

You're probably over paying when it comes to payroll processing costs.


You may just be paying your employees too often. 

That's not to say that you're employees don't deserve to be paid often. Of course they do. However, it's important to make sure you're not over spending. 

Your pay frequency can play a big role in how much you spend on payroll processing. 

If you use a payroll service there's a cost for each check. Even if you do your payroll in-house, there's the cost of employee labor, paper, and ink to consider. 

"So how often should I pay my employees?" you're asking. 

The answer, quite simply, is that there's no one size fits all solution. 

Only you can determine the best method for your business. The only way you can make the decision is by understanding how pay frequencies work. 

What does "pay frequency" mean? 

Finding the best pay frequency system requires fully understanding the term "pay frequency." 

In essence, pay frequency refers to the amount of time between pay days. 

Put another way, pay frequency is the gap of time that elapses between one pay period and the next. 

There are a lot of factors that determine the kind of pay schedule your business adapts. One of the biggest components can be the processing costs per check.

Whether you process your payroll in house or outsource it, there are always costs.. 

Another thing to remember is the kinds of employees you have..

If you business employs individuals who make lower wages, or are in-between  jobs, you might want to consider a more frequent payment schedule. 

The next important consideration is how your employees are paid. 

Employees that make an hourly wage usually have different pay cycles than salary employees..

Finally, you should always be attentive to state laws and adhere to them strictly.

State pay day requirements

 Stumped on finding an answer to the question, how often should I pay my employees? The best place to start is by examining the laws of your state.

 Laws can vary significantly across the country. However, there are a few basic, unchanging principles you can count on. 

Firstly, state laws only regulate how long a pay frequency can extend. In other words, they determine a limit the time between pay periods.

By law, you cannot pay employees less frequently than the guidelines of your state. On the other hand, there are no restrictions when it comes to paying your employees more often. 

For example, the state of Kentucky requires employers to pay employees twice a month.

However, anyone doing business in Kentucky can choose to pay employees on a bi-weekly or weekly basis. They just can't pay less frequently.

Some states also map out specific guidelines. These include details about when compensation should occur, overtime, and even how often certain occupations should be paid. 

That's why its really important to become familiar with the laws of your state. Keep an eye on those regulations when deciding which of the five payment cycles to choose. 

The five pay frequency options

Still wondering, "how often should I pay my employees"? There are six main payment schedules to choose from. 

What works well for your particular business may vary. Usually, the leading factor in this decision will be the number of employees your business has and whether mostly are salaried or hourly. 


Generally, hourly, and especially low wage employees like weekly checks. Although the amount is smaller, the pay frequency is higher. However, the cost of payroll processing can really add up.

If you have fewer employees, the price of processing may not be that significant. Statistics show that 32 % of small businesses with 1-9 employees use a weekly pay schedule.

15 % Popularity at AccuPay


Bi-weekly is popular among businesses that employ more than 100 employees. In a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 58% of small business, with an employee headcount ranging between 100-249, said they use a bi-weekly pay schedule.

Don't confuse this option with semi-monthly. This pay frequency consists of printing checks every two weeks at consistent intervals (like every other Friday).

50 % Popularity at AccuPay


Semi-monthly is the process of paying twice a month on specified dates (such as the 15th and 30th of every month). Almost 21 % of smaller companies (those with 1-9 employees) reported using this method.

This pay frequency isn't quite as popular because selected dates can fall on weekends.

25 % Popularity at AccuPay


This is the least appealing pay frequency to employees. Depending on occupation and how much they make, a monthly pay frequency might make balancing living expenses difficult.

Monthly payroll is the least used option among both larger and smaller businesses, ranking in at about 1% and 15% respectively.

4 % Popularity at AccuPay


In quarterly schedule, employees are paid every quarter (once every 3 months). As a typical pay schedule, the option is probably as rare as a daily pay cycle.

However, bonuses are often paid according to a quarterly pay schedule. For partnerships, or small businesses owned by a single manager, this option may also work.

0.5 % Popularity at AccuPay


Annual payroll is rare in a general sense but very popular with solo business owners. Some business owners choose to pay themselves only once a year, hence the annual payroll.

This kind of schedule requires that you file zero returns on a quarterly basis, for the months without payroll.

Not many payroll bureaus offer annual payroll schedule, and if they do they charge a monthly minimum fee whether you process payroll or not.

AccuPay does not charge a minimum monthly fee. Instead, we charge $25.00 per quarter for filing quarterly returns.

1.5 % Popularity at AccuPay


52 Pay runs per Year

40 Hours per Weekly pay run for Salaried Employees

$17.50 / Pay Run + $1.75 per check


26 Pay runs per Year

80 Hours per Weekly pay run for Salaried Employees

$35.00 / Pay Run + $1.75 per check


24 Pay runs per Year

86.67 Hours per Weekly pay run for Salaried Employees

$35.00 / Pay Run + $1.75 per check


12 Pay runs per Year

173.33 Hours per Weekly pay run for Salaried Employees

$55.00 / Pay Run + $1.75 per check


& Quarterly

1 or 4 Pay run per Year

Depends because this is a special pay schedule

$55.00 / Pay Run + $1.75 per check


At the end of the day, selecting the best payment frequency is going to be all about the circumstances of your business. 

If you can't determine the best way to answer, how often should I pay my employees, the start can be simple. Begin by analyzing the size of your business, the number of employees, and how much they make.

Keep in mind that you want to strike a careful balance. Aim for a balance between what's cost effective and what satisfies your employees needs.

Tipping too far on one side of the scale can  bleed your business dry. Leaning too far to the other side can send employees running for the hills.

Before you make a firm decision, do the math. 

Examine the results you get. If the price seems reasonable and it won't put strain on your employees, go for it. 

Once you figure out the right schedule for you business, you're likely to some save money. You can set aside the saved funds towards projects designed to advance your company goals, or even give your employees a raise. 

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Felix Mwania

I live in the intersection of technology and entrepreneurship. I am a technology enthusiast but my passion is helping small businesses succeed, including mine.

When I am not working, you will find me goofing with my wife and kids. When not with family and/or friends, you will find me doing some home improvement projects.

Felix Mwania


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