Payroll periods are generally categorized into 4 types:
- Monthly: Payroll is generated and usually paid out on a monthly basis. It occurs 12 times a year
- Semi-monthly: Payroll is generated twice a month and paid out either on the 1st and 15th of the month, or 15th and 30th of the month. It occurs 24 times a month.
- Bi-weekly: Generated and paid out every two weeks, bi-weekly payroll sounds a lot like semi-monthly but runs 26 times a year. We’ll go through the differences further into the post.
- Weekly: Payroll is generated and paid out once a week, leading to 52 cycles a year.
Type of Business
Why are there so many different payroll periods? Depending on the type of business, employees and employers find it easier to keep tabs on over time, social security contributions and erratic work schedules if the payroll period is shorter than the usual one month period.
Generally, as a business owner or a payroll head at your business, you generate reports monthly so it seems practical to generate payroll on a monthly basis. However, this may not be suitable to employees, especially in the construction, F&B or retail business where work is valued on an hourly basis.
Type of Employees
Frequency of payroll depends on the type of employees in your business. Usually, full time employees are open to monthly salaries because they have a stable income.
However, part time workers with erratic schedules prefer a shorter pay period so they can manage their finances better. Since hourly workers are most prevalent in industries like F&B, retail and BPOs, markets that we work with very closely, we know that employees favour biweekly or even weekly pay in order to stabilize their finances.
For example, if an employee works 50 hours one week and 10 the next, she might want to be paid weekly in order to cushion the next week’s dip in work.
Costs of Generating Payroll
As a business owner, you also need to track how much it costs to pay all your employees, Many payroll vendors charge on the frequency of payroll generation, in which case, monthly payroll makes sense. But, if the costs are not too high, it may be prudent to generate payroll more often.
It is easier to calculate over time over a shorter pay period. You are less likely to make mistakes. Another cost that is important to look into is the opportunity cost of calculating social security deductions more frequently.
Usually, contributions are calculated monthly, so it is definitely a hassle breaking it down to a semi-monthly, bi-weekly or weekly basis. The most error-prone would be bi-weekly, with 26 weeks to account for where payroll may be generated twice or even thrice a month.
Finally, the frequency of payroll generation depends on a set of factors: the share of employees working part time versus full time, the costs of generating payroll and the kind of business that you own.
Weighing the costs and benefits and communicating with employees on what suits them best are the first steps to take before settling on a pay period. Do let us know what kind of pay period has worked best for your business!