Pay Frequency Requirements by State + Federal Laws

Must-know Pay Frequency Requirements by State

When it comes to paying your employees, you can’t pay them all willy-nilly. Instead, you must give them their wages on a consistent basis (e.g., weekly) and stick to one pay frequency. When you choose a paycheck frequency for your business, you need to follow state and federal payment laws. Learn about pay frequency requirements by state and federal payday laws.

State and federal pay frequency requirements

To stay compliant, you must know federal and state pay frequency laws like the back of your hand. So, how often do employees have to be paid? Brush up on federal and state rules for pay frequency below to find out. 

Pay frequency requirements by state

State laws determine how often you should pay employees. Of course, each state sets unique regulations.

Almost every state has pay frequency laws. The only states that don’t have specific pay frequency laws are Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina.

Many states require a weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly payroll. This is the minimum frequency for paying employees. Take a look at how each common payroll interval works:

  • Weekly: Once a week (52 paychecks per year)
  • Biweekly: Once every other week (26 paychecks per year)
  • Semimonthly: Twice per month (24 paychecks per year)
  • Monthly: Once per month (12 paychecks per year)

You can always pay employees more frequently than the state requires. For example, if the state requires a semimonthly payroll, that is not the only pay frequency you can choose. You can also pay employees biweekly and weekly. Just make sure you pay employees at least semimonthly.

Some states have more complicated rules. The laws go further than the standard weekly, biweekly, etc. For example, some states require employers to pay employees every so many days.

Take a look at our pay frequency laws by state chart below to find out your state’s requirements. If there’s an “X” in the box under a pay frequency, that means the state requires you to use at least that pay frequency. If your state has more than one “X,” you might be able to use either pay frequency, depending on restrictions.

AlabamaNo specified regulations.
ArizonaXThere must be two or more paydays per month, no more than 16 days apart.
CaliforniaXXXXPay frequency depends on occupation.
ConnecticutXEmployers can use a less frequent pay period if approved by the labor commissioner.
FloridaNo specified regulations.
HawaiiXXEmployees can choose to be paid on a monthly basis under a special election procedure. The Director of Labor and Industrial Relations may also give exceptions to the semimonthly pay requirement. Requirements only apply to private sector employees.
IllinoisXXThe monthly pay requirements apply only to executive, administrative, and professional employees.
IowaXXXXAny pay schedule is allowed as long as employees are paid at least monthly and no later than 12 days from the end of the period when the wages were earned (excluding Sundays and legal holidays). This can be waived with a written agreement. Employees on commission have different requirements.
LouisianaXXThe semimonthly pay frequency applies to businesses employing 10 or more employees engaged in manufacturing, mining, or boring for oil, and to every public service corporation. Payment is required at least twice per calendar month.
MaineXYou must pay employees at least every 16 days.
MassachusettsXXSemimonthly and monthly pay dates are permissible in certain circumstances.
MichiganXXXXPay frequency depends on occupation.
MinnesotaXXEmployers are required to pay employees at least once every 31 days. Employers must pay transitory employees at least every 15 days. Public service corporations doing business within the state must pay employees at least every 15 days.
MississippiXXThese requirements apply to every manufacturing business in the state with 50 or more employees and employing public labor, and to every public service corporation doing business in the state.
MontanaIf there is not an established time when wages are payable, the pay period is assumed to be semimonthly.
NebraskaThe employer can designate the payday.
NevadaXXThe monthly pay requirements apply only to executive, administrative, and professional employees.
New HampshireXXXXWeekly or biweekly payment of wages is required. Semimonthly or monthly payment of wages are available upon written permission of the NHDOL.
New JerseyXXEmployers can pay executive, supervisory, and other special classifications of employees once per month.
New MexicoXXThe monthly pay requirements apply only to executive, administrative, and professional employees.
New YorkXXWeekly payday applies to manual workers. Semimonthly payday for other workers and clerical workers and upon approval for manual workers.
North CarolinaNo pay frequency is specified. The pay period can be daily, weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, or monthly.
North DakotaX
PennsylvaniaThe employer can designate the payday.
Rhode IslandXXXChildcare providers have the option to be paid every two weeks. Employers that meet certain requirements can request permission to pay employees less frequently than weekly, but at least twice per month.
South CarolinaNo specified regulations.
South DakotaX
TexasXXA monthly pay frequency is allowed for employees exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA.
UtahXXEmployees with a yearly salary can be paid monthly.
VermontXXXEmployers can use biweekly and semimonthly paydays with written notice.
VirginiaXXXThe monthly pay requirements apply only to executive, administrative, and professional employees. Employees whose weekly wages are more than 150% of the average weekly wage of the state can be paid monthly as long as they agree to it.
West VirginiaX
WisconsinXMost employers must pay workers all wages earned at least monthly, with no more than 31 days between pay periods. The only employees exempt from this requirement are employees engaged in logging (must be paid at least quarterly), those engaged in farm labor (must be paid at least quarterly), unclassified employees of the UW system (left to the system), part-time firefighters and part-time emergency medical technicians (must be paid at regular intervals, at least annually), school employees who voluntarily request payment over a 12-month period, and employees covered under a valid collective bargaining agreement establishing a different frequency for wage payments.

Keep in mind that state laws are subject to change. Before you select a pay frequency, make sure you know your state’s payday laws. Check with your state or the Department of Labor for more information about pay frequency laws. 

states that don't have pay frequency laws or requirements

Federal pay frequency laws

There is no federal law that says how often you must pay employees. That’s left up to the state laws. But, federal laws do say you must keep a consistent pay frequency.

You cannot change an employee’s pay frequency whenever you feel like it. For example, you can’t pay employees weekly then all of a sudden change the frequency to monthly. 

But, you can change your pay frequency in some situations. You might be able to change your frequency if all of the following are true:

  • You have a legitimate business reason
  • The change is permanent
  • You are not avoiding overtime pay or minimum wage
  • You don’t unreasonably delay payment of wages

You can use different pay frequencies based on department, location, or pay type (i.e., salary or hourly wages). You just need to make sure to fairly and consistently pay all employees.

Want more information on pay frequencies? Download our guide, “Pay Schedules: The Cornerstone of Running Payroll,” to learn more. Oh, and did we mention it’s free?

Ready to pay your employees? Run as many payrolls as you’d like with Patriot’s online payroll software. We charge per employee, so you don’t need to stress about extra charges for running additional payrolls. Get your free trial today!

This article is updated from its original publication date of August 8, 2018.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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