How to Create a Payroll Calendar [Free 2024 Calendar Download]

People depend on their employers to pay them on time every time. This is especially true for the 61% of consumers living paycheck to paycheck and the one in five Americans who don’t have emergency savings to fall back on. Plus, the payroll mistakes that affect your employees’ livelihood may also mean penalties and legal trouble for your company.

How can you pave the way for more predictable payments in the New Year? Creating a pay period calendar is a great place to start. Pay periods are all about timing—finding the right balance and sticking to a schedule that helps keep everyone on track.

With a calendar, it’s easy to figure out how many pay periods occur during the year, what days to run payroll, and even how much you’re spending on administrative costs. Not to mention, your employees will have a clear idea of when their earnings fall into their bank accounts.

BambooHR helps thousands of businesses handle core human resource tasks in ways that keep everyone organized and on course. With our centralized platform, you enjoy fast, accurate payroll. Here, we’ll explain different payroll arrangements and help you create a pay period calendar for 2024.

What Is a Pay Period?

A pay period is the timeframe for when your employees’ work hours are tracked, recorded, and turned into paychecks. Part of your yearly payroll schedule, pay periods run seamlessly at predictable intervals with clear start and end dates. For business owners, a consistent payroll schedule is crucial for effective accounting and compliance. For employees, it lets them know when to expect their hard-earned paychecks, so they can base their financial plans on predictable cash flow.

Payday usually occurs a few days after a pay cycle closes. And while your pay periods may sync up with the standard workweek, they’re not the same thing. Sometimes, a pay period spans multiple workweeks or overlaps with portions of another workweek—it all depends on your payroll calendar.

5 Common Pay Period Arrangements and How They Work

Most organizations find running automated payroll each week or a couple of times a month is a good rhythm, but there are other options. How you organize your payroll calendar depends on your financial needs, business type, and other factors. Here’s a look into the most common pay period arrangements:

Weekly Pay Schedule

On a weekly pay calendar, your employees get paid once a week. This is an instance where the pay cycle mirrors the workweek, and many businesses issue paychecks each Thursday or Friday. Weekly payroll admin may be more cost effective for mid-size businesses and large companies, but it also works well for organizations with hourly employees or fluctuating workforce needs.

Bi-Weekly Pay Schedule

Employees are paid every other week on a bi-weekly pay schedule, which is the most common among private employers. Paychecks are issued on the same payday, providing the same level of predictability as a weekly schedule. The primary benefit of this option is that it’s less expensive and time consuming since your organization is only running payroll about half as often.

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Semi-Monthly Pay Schedule

During a semi-monthly pay schedule, employees get paid twice per month on specific pay dates, (e.g. the 7th and the 21st). In this instance, each pay period duration hinges on the number of days in the month. This pay schedule is ideal for business owners with salaried employees looking for ways to simplify compensation, benefits administration, and other tasks.

Monthly Pay Schedule

Organizations with a monthly pay schedule pay their employees one paycheck per month, typically on the same date (e.g. the 1st of every month). The minimal rate simplifies payroll even further for businesses than other schedules, but it can feel challenging for employees to manage their finances since their paychecks are issued so far apart. This model often works best for self-employed professionals and independent contractors.

On-Demand Pay Schedule

On-demand payroll, or an earned wage access (EWA) program, puts employees in control. With this schedule, they can access their income as it’s earned, requesting payment sooner than their business’s regular payday. However, this service usually comes with a flat transaction fee. Employees living paycheck to paycheck can gain some relief from this type of program, but figuring out the taxes can be tricky.

How Many Pay Periods Are in a Year?

Some years have more pay periods than others, but it also depends on your schedule. For instance, a couple of months will include three pay periods instead of two on a bi-weekly schedule. Also, some years have 53 Fridays, which means businesses on a weekly schedule will issue extra paychecks.

Every four years, some businesses with salaried employees also need to budget for leap year payroll. During a leap year, the extra day in February can lead to an extra weekly or bi-weekly pay period. Most companies don’t change a thing and just pay their workforce a little more. Alternatively, you can divvy up their annual salaries to account for the extra pay period, evenly distributing it in slightly smaller amounts.

Here’s a table to help you figure out the number of pay periods for the upcoming year:

2024 Pay Period Chart

Payroll Schedule
Number of Pay Periods
Pay Date
52 (or 53) pay periods
Every week
26 (or 27) pay periods
Every other week
24 pay periods
Twice per month
12 pay periods
Once per month

*2024 is a leap year with 53 Mondays and 53 Tuesdays

How to Make a Pay Period Calendar for 2024

A pay period calendar is a company-wide resource that highlights key dates and deadlines. It's created collaboratively between employers and administrators and updated yearly to reflect the most current table of events. Different from a payroll checklist, this document generally includes the following:

It also accounts for the holidays when businesses are closed and you have to run payroll a day earlier to ensure everyone gets paid on time. Here’s a list of the 2024 Federal Reserve bank holidays:

Once your 2024 payroll calendar is all set, let everyone know. Even if you hand out hardcopies at the office, saving it in the Cloud or as an email attachment makes it easier for people to find it 24/7. And don’t forget to set reminders for important dates. Post-it® Notes are great, but this is where an HR software provider comes in handy. A built-in payroll calendar with automated notifications helps save business owners time (and more than a few headaches).

2024 Biweekly Pay Period Calendar [Free Download]

Pay your people like a pro with our free 2024 biweekly pay period calendar. Straight from our team to yours, this printable calendar makes sure employees always know when payday is coming.

Download the Calendar

How to Choose a Payroll Schedule for Your Business

Before choosing a payroll schedule for your business, take some time to think about which one will work best from compliance and financial standpoints. It all depends on your organization’s size, industry, and workforce needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Now that you know more about pay periods and how a payroll calendar can help you stick to a schedule, what’s next? Payroll is a juggling act—especially for a growing company—but launching a system that runs like clockwork is a snap with automated payroll software. The more tools you have at your fingertips, the better you’ll be at streamlining the payroll process from end to end.

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From tax deductions to direct deposit, BambooHR makes it easy to manage your team's total compensation in a single, centralized system.

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