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What is a pay period?

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A pay period is a recurring schedule which will dictate your payroll cycle, the time for which regular wages for your employees or workers is being given. The usual process is to have a pay period that is weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or every four weeks.

Is pay period the same as pay frequency?

The term pay period refers to the period of time for which the worker is being paid. This is not the same as the pay frequency, which is how regularly the worker is paid, and on which day. For example, the pay frequency (also known as the pay cycle) might be every month on the 15th of the month, but the pay period would be the amount of time they are being paid for on that date, which could be from the 1st-30th of the previous month, for example.

According to the pay cycle, the pay date is usually at least a few days after the pay period is complete, to give the business time to manage payroll and make sure it is accurate and complete.

What kinds of pay period are there?

Most organizations will choose a standard pay period, rather than have different pay periods for different workers. However, it can be tough to choose a model that works for everyone.

For example, if a company chooses a pay period for employees that is monthly, this may be problematic for contractors or hourly workers who want to be paid per project or more regularly for their time. If a business opts for a weekly pay period, they will need to manage 52 payroll cycles a year, no easy task.

In some cases, employers will choose to have different pay periods for different employee groups. They can offer hourly workers a weekly pay period, and then be less flexible for those on the full time payroll.

The most common types of pay periods are daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or semi-monthly. In certain regions specific pay periods are more or less common.

Are there Local Regulations for Pay Periods?

It’s important to think about local laws and regulations around pay periods. For example, many countries have a 13th or 14th month pay which is distributed to align with local holidays or cultural conventions and may require a more complex payroll at certain times of year.

In some countries, laws dictate pay periods, for example in The Philippines, bimonthly payment is mandatory. In Belgium knowledge workers and other white-collar roles receive monthly payroll payments, while blue-collar workers are paid at least semi-monthly, and often with greater regularity.

Can technology help with pay periods?

When working with global employees, putting technology to work can simplify and automate the payroll process for pay periods, pay frequency and more. Employees increasingly expect flexibility and accuracy over how they are paid, and modern enterprises are getting great benefits from using workforce management platforms to add automation to the task, especially when managing global workforce, and processing global payroll.

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