So, your business is growing, and you’re hiring employees. It’s an exciting time for sure, but it comes with many questions—especially if you’re a first-time employer.
One of the questions you need to figure out before your employees start working is, “How often should I run payroll?”
As the business owner, this is entirely up to you—but the most popular payroll schedule is biweekly. But what, exactly, does this payroll schedule entail? And is there a calendar you can follow? We’ll dive into all that and more, so keep reading!
What Is Biweekly Pay?
A biweekly pay schedule means you pay your employees every other week on a particular day of the week. For instance, you may send paychecks out to employees every other Friday. Since one year has 52 weeks, the biweekly pay schedule has 26 pay periods during the calendar year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 43% of businesses use the biweekly pay schedule, making it the most common payroll schedule.
2023 Biweekly Payroll Calendar Template
In 2023, there are 26 pay dates under the biweekly schedule. Most employers use Friday as their paycheck due date since holidays such as Labor Day and Memorial Day fall on Mondays.
Here’s a free printable 2023 Biweekly Payroll Schedule Template you can use with Microsoft Excel or Google sheets. (Just click “Make a copy” to get your own version.)
If you want to make payroll processing even easier, check out Hourly. The payroll platform automatically calculates wages and pays your workers, and takes care of your payroll taxes—cutting down on the time, energy, and resources needed to run payroll.
How To Calculate Biweekly Paychecks
Calculating paycheck amounts is relatively simple. Here’s how to do it:
For Salaried Employees
To calculate gross pay for salaried employees, divide the total salary by 26 (the total number of pay periods).
For example, let’s say you have a full-time office worker that receives a salary of $44,200. When you divide $44,200 by 26, you get $1,700 of gross pay for each period (Gross pay is the total amount paid to your employee before you withhold payroll taxes.)
Need to know how much they're making per hour? Perhaps you want to check if an employee is making above the minimum wage set by your municipality, state or federal government?
Divide their salary by 2,080 non-overtime hours in a year. So, for the example above, we would divide $44,200 by 2,080 hours. That comes out to $21.25 per hour.
For Hourly Employees
For hourly team members, you can calculate their pay this way: Take the total number of hours worked between the pay period start date and the pay period end date—and then multiply that by their hourly rate.
So if you have an hourly worker that’s paid $15 per hour who clocked in 60 hours on their timesheet, their gross pay would be $900. Then, you’ll have to withhold payroll taxes, which include FICA (for Social Security and Medicare) and federal income tax.
Let’s say the tax withholding for this employee includes 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare (FICA taxes) and 12% for federal income tax. That means you withhold a total of 19.65% of gross pay, which comes out to $176.85. Your employee’s net pay after taxes for the period is $723.15.
Which Pay Schedule Should You Use?
When selecting which payroll schedule, there are several factors to consider—including the amount of administrative work involved, industry standards, and employee preferences. Here are the most common ones and some things you may want to consider when choosing which one to go with:
From the business owner’s perspective, less frequent paydays are nice since they involve less work. For example, using a monthly calendar means you only have to run payroll 12 times a year.
Monthly payroll can be a more affordable option for companies that run payroll themselves, which takes time and resources, or those that work with a payroll service provider that charges them every time they run payroll. (If you have, Hourly, however, you can do unlimited payroll runs—and pay your employees as often as you want.)
Finally, depending on the type of workers you hire and where you do business, you may actually be required to pay your employees more than once per month (You can view the complete statewide payday requirements on the U.S. Department of Labor website.) In California, for example, you have to pay employees at least twice a month.
This option is great for employees. It gives them an incentive to keep working every week and makes them feel more financially secure. Rather than watching their bank account dwindle over the month, it consistently gets re-upped every week, which is a big comfort.
Weekly schedules are also great for hourly workers in particular. They often have variable work schedules and find it much easier to see how much they’ve earned so far by getting paid weekly. This can help them determine if they’re on track to pay rent, their bills and any other expenses—or if they need to pick up more work before the month is over.
These schedules, however, may require more admin work to do weekly payroll processing—unless you have a service like Hourly, which will do it automatically for you, however often you want.
A biweekly pay schedule gives you a nice balance between admin work and keeping your employees happy.
It is also the most commonly used method. That means it’s a familiar schedule for a lot of workers. So, when you hire new employees, it’s more likely that they’ve experienced this pay frequency before, making that part of their transition seamless.
Which Months Have Three Pay Periods in Them?
Some months are longer than others, and that means payday may occur three times, instead of two. If you start your biweekly payroll schedule on Friday, January 6, 2023, your three-paycheck months will be March and September.
As the employer, you don’t need to plan too much for this since it happens automatically due to your payment schedule. However, it’s good to be aware since your payroll expenses will appear higher for those two months.
Why Do Some Years Have 27 Paydays?
When you use a biweekly schedule, most years have 26 pay periods. However, some years will have 27. Why is that? Well, calendar math can be complicated. Here’s why it happens. (And heads up, we’re about to get a bit technical.)
Paying your employees every other week means you have two weeks, or 14 days, per period. If you look at how many pay periods there should be in a year, it turns out it’s a little over 26.
In other words, when you take the 365 days in a year and divide by the 14 days per period, you get 26.071 (not an equal 26) pay dates per year. That extra .071 is less than 10% of a single pay period. After about 14 years, that extra amount equals a whole extra pay period.
All you need to know is that technically, about every 14 years, you will have 27 pay periods. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen in the same year for every business.
Say you started your business five years ago, and your friend started one three years ago. Each of you will have a different amount of rollover time. Ultimately, your 27-period year depends on when you began using a biweekly payroll schedule.
If you want to find out when your 27-period year is due, you can speak with a human resources specialist who can look at your previous records and let you know when you’ll need to add an extra payday to your schedule.
Your Payroll Process is Up to You
Choosing the right payroll schedule for your small business is important in managing your administrative work and keeping employee satisfaction up. No matter what schedule you choose, it’s helpful to have a calendar handy to plan out your paydays in advance.
That said, a biweekly payroll schedule is one of the most popular options for a reason. It’s manageable for employers and helps employees feel more financially secure as you pay them more often. If you think it’s the right option for you, get started today with our free template!