Biweekly vs Semimonthly Payroll Understand the Difference


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  • A semi-weekly payroll occurs more frequently than all the traditional paydays.
  • Likewise, semiconscious means halfway or partially conscious.
  • Compared with a Weekly pay schedule, there is a significant reduction in administrative and payroll costs since there are fewer pay periods.
  • Consider which employees make up the majority of your payroll before you choose your process.
  • Semimonthly is an adjective that is derived from the prefix semi-, which means half, part, partly, twice, as it comes from the Latin semi-, meaning half, and monthly.
  • Infrequent paychecks mean they have to wait longer and strictly budget their money between pay periods.

Biweekly schedules are the most common payroll schedule, according to a 2018 QuickBooks Payroll report. If you pay employees monthly, they receive one paycheck per month. For the calculation of the semimonthly salary of an employee, businesses must divide the employees’ monthly salary by 2. For example, if the monthly salary of an employee is $5,000, then their semimonthly salary will be $2,500 ($5,000 / 2). The frequency of payroll is a critical factor in the overall payroll function of the business.

This means they pay their employees a total of 24 times within a year. Businesses can gain certain advantages due to operating a semimonthly payroll but may also have to face some drawbacks. Commonly, most businesses pay their employees every month.

The difference between semimonthly and biweekly payroll

Monthly paychecks can make financial planning difficult for some employees. Now, it’s time to look at each of the four options—weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly—in detail. Pay frequency is one of the first decisions you must make when you hire your first employee. If you haven’t thought about payroll frequency, now’s the time to start. Employee satisfaction, legal compliance, and cash flow may depend on it.

The distinction between the two is important because not all months have the same number of days. Some months have 30 days, some have 31, and February has 28. An employee would receive 24 paychecks per year with a semi-monthly pay schedule 26 paychecks per year with a bi-weekly pay schedule. In some cases, semi monthly pay periods may not be right for all employees.

Differences in the number of paychecks per year

Weekly payroll works best for hourly workers and employees with irregular schedules. The bi-monthly method wreaks havoc on business cost and budget analyses. This is because a year encompasses 52 weeks, and those weeks are not evenly allocated across the 12 months.

This type of payroll is more suited towards companies who pay their employees a high salary and don’t need to worry about missed days due to bank holidays. In general, bi-weekly payrolls are used by companies that pay their employees a low to average hourly wage. If your employees punch in and out and work a different amount of hours each week, then a bi-weekly payroll will make more sense. Keep in mind that employees who volunteer to work more hours may be doing so because they need more cash flow that week. Semi-monthly has two payments per month, i.e., paid twice a month on different days of the month with no interim pay periods included between them. For example, On the 1st and 15th of every month you will get your salary or your income tax return, so it is called semimonthly schedule.

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Furthermore, employees affected by these errors don’t have to wait until the end of the month to receive their compensation. Often, businesses confuse semimonthly payrolls with biweekly payrolls. However, there are some subtle differences between both approaches. The main difference between the two is that businesses prepare semimonthly payrolls 24 times a year while preparing biweekly payrolls 26 times a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 43% of employees are paid biweekly.

Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy, you just haven’t fully grasped the semi-monthly vs. bi-weekly payroll debate yet. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a full guide on what makes these two types of payrolls different. Semi Monthly Pay Periods may be challenging for managers to understand. Managers who are not experienced in a semi monthly pay cycle may have a difficult time managing their budget.

Does Semi-monthly Mean Twice a Month or Every Two Weeks?

A biweekly payroll schedule will typically be seen in the eyes of your employees as “dependable” and “consistent”. Also, your payroll clerk will be able to keep a consistent schedule and pace with how they distribute them. The one downside to biweekly payments is the inconsistency in how much money you are paying out each month. There will always be a couple of months where you will have three paydays instead of two. It will be up to you and your accountant to make sure you will have enough to cover the extra payout.

  • Every now and then, though, a month might have five Wednesdays and the meeting might fall on the first, third, and fifth Wednesdays.
  • For example, your employees are consistently paid every other Friday, so you run payroll on the same day each pay period.
  • For example, let’s assume an employee makes $55,000 a year.

Companies that run payroll with a biweekly frequency dole out a total of 26 paychecks per year. Companies that use semimonthly pay give employees 24 paychecks per year. For example, in a semimonthly payroll, businesses will pay their employees first on the 3rd date of the month and then on the 18th date of the month. In comparison, in a biweekly payroll, businesses will pay their employees every Friday of alternate weeks.

Definition of Biweekly Payroll

The first advantage of a what does my accountant need to file business taxes payroll for businesses is employee motivation. Paying employees more frequently causes their motivation levels to rise. Businesses do not have to pay their employees anything extra to increase their motivation levels. Businesses that operate a semimonthly payroll pay their employees twice every month.


Although they are similar, semi-monthly and bi-weekly do not mean the same thing. Semi-monthly means twice per month and bi-weekly means every two weeks. You may be asking yourself why this distinction is important. Most of the time, these terms are interchangeable, but not always. A schedule of regular payments, twice a month, usually on the 1st and 15th of the month.

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You can calculate this by dividing the 2,080workdayss by the 24 semi-monthly payrolls. With semimonthly payroll, you pay employees on specific dates, such as the 15th and last weekday of each month. Because the payroll is processed fewer times for semimonthly frequencies than biweekly, employees’ paychecks will be greater.


Businesses must manage and control these payments properly. Therefore, almost all businesses have a specific department dedicated to managing their employees. The department is known as the Human Resources (HR) department. The following table shows the equivalent semi-monthly pay for various annual salaries presuming each payment is the same throughout the year. The first column shows the equivalent semi-monthly untaxed income & the second column shows the equivalent after-tax income presuming a flat 25% income tax rate.

And if you outsource your payroll, you may experience more service fees. Typically, biweekly paydays happen on the same day of the week but not the same date. Months with “extra” paydays can impact cash flow, so it’s important to account for them during cash flow planning. Employers pay employees more frequently, and payday is on the same day of the week.

How to calculate semi monthly pay?

The most commonly asked question about semi-monthly payroll is whether it means twice a month or every two weeks. Only businesses with more than 20 employees will be able to share the extra cost of implementing a semi-monthly system. In a small business, semi monthly pay periods can be unnecessary and time consuming. Payroll is a major expense that you must budget properly. For example, biweekly pay schedules may not work on tight budgets during three-paycheck months.

Semimonthly is often found hyphenated as in semi-monthly, but the Oxford English dictionary only lists it as one word, unhyphenated. Remember, bimonthly may mean occurring twice a month or occurring every two months, semimonthly only means occurring twice a month. Monthly payroll offers easier-to-manage benefit deductions since you only have to factor out the monthly cost. And processing payroll only has to happen once a month, making it less time-consuming than other options.

Nineteen percent of employees receive their wages on a semimonthly basis. A semimonthly pay frequency can be difficult for employers and employees to track. Employees can receive their wages on a Tuesday or a Friday, all depending on the day the date falls. With a semimonthly pay frequency, you pay employees on specific dates, but the days might differ.