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How to Calculate a Pay Period

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Regular pay periods are those scheduled to occur daily, weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. A miscellaneous pay period is any pay period that is not considered regular, such as a 10-day pay period, which includes weekends and holidays. Employers typically pay employees weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly. Employees are paid according to their pay period. Consequently, when calculating a pay period you have to consider the employee’s pay status.

Keep in mind that a weekly pay period is based on one week’s pay; biweekly, two weeks’ pay; semi-monthly pay, twice per month; monthly, once per month; quarterly, every three months; semi-annually, twice per year; and annually, once per year. Quarterly, semi-annual and annual pay periods usually occur in specific circumstances, such as paid leave.

Pay hourly employees based on the number of hours worked during the pay period. Multiply the number of hours worked in the pay period by the employee’s hourly rate to arrive at the gross pay.

For instance, say the employee works 80 regular hours for the biweekly pay period and earns $10 per hour. Calculation: 80 hours x $10 = $800, biweekly gross pay.

If she got paid weekly, her paycheck would be less because it would be based on one week’s pay. Calculation: 40 hours x $10 = $400, weekly gross pay.

Pay salaried workers a full salary based on their pay period. Salaried workers must receive a fixed amount each pay period, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. To arrive at the gross wages per pay period, divide the annual salary by the number of pay periods in the year.

For instance, say the employee earns an annual salary of $74,000 and gets paid monthly. Calculation: $74,000 / 12 pay periods = $6,166.67, monthly gross pay.

Tip

In large organizations, multiple payrolls are not uncommon. For example, hourly workers may get paid biweekly while salaried workers may be paid semi-monthly. To avoid confusing employees, establish payroll calendars (see resources below), depicting the pay period start and end dates and the actual pay date for each payroll.

About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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