What is the Difference Between Bi Weekly and Semi Monthly Payroll

monthly bi weekly salary

For many of us, payday isn’t just any old day—it’s the day we eagerly wait for, the time when our hard work pays off with a paycheck. It’s our reward for putting in the effort. Payday is when we get a tangible “thank you” in the form of money. But did you know that not everyone gets paid once a month? Nope! There are lots of different ways companies pay their employees.

Besides the usual monthly pay, there are other ways companies do it too. Some pay every day, every week, every two weeks (which we call “bi-weekly”), or twice a month (which we call “semi-monthly”). Each of these ways has its rhythm and schedule.

In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at two of these ways: bi-weekly and semi-monthly pay. We’ll keep it simple and explore how they work. 

I used to think that there was no difference between semi-monthly and bi-weekly payroll until I learned how these two payroll systems work. I believed this because, in my head, I just did simple reasoning: each month has 4 weeks, and in bi-weekly, you get paid every two weeks, and in semi-monthly, you also get paid twice a month, so both are the same. But oh boy, I was wrong.

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Let’s understand the difference between bi-weekly payroll and semi-monthly payroll.

1. Frequency of Pay:

  • Bi-Weekly Payroll: Employees are paid every two weeks by their employers or companies. For example, if payday falls on Friday, employees can expect to receive their paycheck every other Friday.
  • Semi-Monthly Payroll: Employees receive payment twice a month, typically on specific dates like the 15th and the last day of each month. For instance, if an employee is paid semi-monthly, they might receive their paycheck on the 15th and the last day of the month, regardless of the day of the week.

2. Total Number of Pay Periods:

  • Bi-Weekly Payroll: Employees usually have 26 pay periods per year. This consistency provides employees with a predictable income schedule.
  • Semi-Monthly Payroll: Employees have 24 pay periods per year, with varying lengths depending on the number of days in each month. Despite having fewer pay periods, semi-monthly paychecks may offer more significant amounts per paycheck compared to bi-weekly paychecks.

3. Consistency:

  • Bi-Weekly Payroll: Each pay period covers 14 consecutive days, providing a consistent timeframe for tracking work hours and earnings.
  • Semi-Monthly Payroll: The first payday of the month covers 15 days, while the second payday varies between 15 and 16 days due to differences in the number of days in each month. This variation can affect budgeting and financial planning for employees.

4. Complexity:

  • Bi-Weekly Payroll: This system is generally simpler because the payroll department processes payments every two weeks, maintaining a regular rhythm for payroll processing.
  • Semi-Monthly Payroll: There is a slight complexity in processing payroll due to variations in the number of days in each month. Payroll departments may need to adjust calculations for months with fewer or additional workdays.

5. Variation in Paycheck Amounts:

  • Bi-weekly paychecks may vary in amount depending on the number of days worked in each pay period.
  • Semi-monthly paychecks typically offer more consistent amounts, as they are based on set pay periods within each month.

Each payroll option has its advantages and considerations, influencing factors such as company payroll policies, employee preferences, and payroll processing efficiency. Understanding the differences between bi-weekly and semi-monthly pay schedules can help both employers and employees make informed decisions regarding payment frequency.


Payday isn’t just about getting paid—it’s about recognizing hard work, feeling secure with money, and having a chance to grow. At first glance, bi-weekly and semi-monthly pay might seem similar, but they’re actually quite different.

Some companies like bi-weekly pay because it’s regular and easy to manage. Others prefer semi-monthly pay because it’s predictable and sometimes means bigger paychecks.

Choosing between them depends on things like the type of work, how much people get paid, payroll department and company rules. After reading this, you’ll know which one works best for you or your team. By understanding these differences, you can pick the right pay schedule that fits your needs. 

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