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You go to work and put in your 40 hours. Like everyone else, you expect to be paid on the designated payday established by your employer. And unless you live in one of three states that have no pay frequency laws, the day you are paid is mandated by state government according to the options available in your state.

So what are the three states with no pay frequency laws? Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida. The remaining 47 states and the District of Columbia all regulate pay frequency to one extent or another. As for the holdouts, a lack of state regulation does not allow employers in the states to pay their workers willy-nilly. Employers are not allowed to be mercurial either.

Federal law does not establish any sort of pay frequency. However, rules imposed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) do require that employers be consistent. In other words, employers in Florida cannot pay employees on Friday, then wait 10 days and pay them again on Monday, then wait another 17 days before paying them again. They must establish a consistent pay schedule that they then have to stick to.

Pay Frequency Options

Employers in the District of Columbia and the 47 states with pay frequency laws have multiple options to choose from. Note that not every option is available or mandated in every state. It is up to employers to know what the pay frequency regulations are in the states where they have employees. There are four options, generally speaking:

  • Weekly – Employees are paid on the same day every week
  • Biweekly – Employees are paid on the same day every two weeks
  • Semi Monthly – Employees are paid twice monthly (usually during the week following the 15th and last day of the month)
  • Monthly – employees are paid on the same date every month (usually during the first week of the new month).

It is fascinating to go through a list of each of the states to learn what they mandate in terms of pay frequency. For example, the state of California requires that one of the first three options be used by employers there. In Iowa, all four options are available. The thing about Iowa is that employers must pay their workers within 12 days of the end of the pay period – even if they are paying monthly.

Getting back to South Carolina for example, there is no state law determining how frequently employees must be paid. However, employers are required to settle on a schedule and inform workers, in writing, at the time of hire. This rule applies to all businesses with at least five employees.

Pay Frequency for Practical Purposes

It would not be unsurprising to learn that small business owners are unaware of the pay frequency laws in their states. Why? Because, as BenefitMall explains, the practical aspects of payroll processing dictate that employers set up a regular pay schedule anyway. And since there is no state in the union that makes weekly or biweekly pay illegal, employers generally do not have to think about state laws in this regard.

BenefitMall says there is no right or wrong pay frequency schedule for every employer. Each employer has to determine for themselves the pay frequency that works best for their needs as well as those of their employees. They are quick to remind employers of the federal requirement to make pay schedules consistent.

As for employees, they may or may not care about pay frequency. But it is still worth finding out what they think before changing the current schedule.

James William

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