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What is a Pay Period?

A pay period refers to the specific duration over which an employer calculates and records an employee's work hours and corresponding earnings. Pay periods determine the frequency of your paychecks. The length of the pay period affects how much is withheld for taxes and other deductions, and it also determines how overtime pay is calculated.

How Many Pay Periods are in a Year?

Pay periods vary by company and are typically defined as weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or hourly to annual salary, depending on the company's payroll schedule and policies. For example, in a company with a bi-weekly pay period, employees receive their pay every two weeks, resulting in 26 pay periods in a year.

Types of Pay Periods

Here are examples of pay periods:


Employees are paid every week, typically on the same day each week.

Results in 52 paychecks per year.

Bi-Weekly (Fortnightly)

Employees are paid every two weeks.

Results in 26 paychecks per year.


Employees are paid twice a month, often on the 15th and the last day of the month.

Results in 24 paychecks per year.


Employees are paid once a month.

Results in 12 paychecks per year.


Payments are made every three months.

Uncommon for regular employee salaries but may be used for specific types of compensation.


Employees receive their pay once a year.

Common for certain types of bonuses or executive compensation.


Employees are paid based on specific projects or irregular work schedules.

Common for freelancers, contractors, or those in the gig economy.

The choice of pay period often depends on factors such as company policies, industry standards, and legal requirements. Employers need to consider their business needs and employee preferences when determining the appropriate pay period. Additionally, local labor laws may dictate the minimum frequency for wage payments. It's essential for employers to comply with these regulations to ensure fair and timely compensation for employees.

Most Common Pay Periods in UAE and KSA

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the most common pay periods align with international standards and can include the following:

United Arab Emirates (UAE)


Many companies in the UAE follow a monthly pay period, where employees receive their salaries once a month. This is a common practice across various industries in the UAE.

Bi-Weekly (Fortnightly)

Some companies may adopt a bi-weekly pay period, particularly in certain sectors or for specific types of employees.


In some cases, companies might use a semi-monthly pay period, where employees are paid twice a month. It's important to note that the choice of pay period can vary between companies based on their internal policies and industry norms. However, monthly pay periods are the most prevalent in the UAE.

Read more: UAE Laws

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)


Similar to the UAE, monthly pay periods are common in Saudi Arabia, where employees receive their salaries once a month.

Bi-Weekly (Fortnightly)

Some companies in KSA may also follow a bi-weekly pay period, especially in certain industries or for specific job roles.


Similar to the UAE, a semi-monthly pay period might be used by certain companies in Saudi Arabia.

As with the UAE, the choice of pay period in Saudi Arabia can vary between companies based on their internal policies and industry practices. Monthly pay periods are generally the most prevalent in both countries. It's important for employers to communicate the pay schedule clearly to employees and comply with local labor laws regarding wage payments.

Read more: KSA Laws

How do Set Pay Periods Benefit Employees and Employers?

The pay period system offers several advantages for both employers and employees. Here are some key benefits:

  • Pay periods provide a structured and consistent schedule for payroll processing. Employees know when to expect their paychecks, which helps them plan their finances.
  • Standardizing pay periods simplifies payroll processing for employers. It reduces the frequency of payroll-related tasks, such as calculating hours worked, overtime, and deductions.
  • Knowing the regular intervals of their pay allows employees to budget and manage their finances effectively. This can lead to greater financial stability and reduced financial stress.
  • With defined pay periods, it's easier to track and calculate overtime hours accurately.
  • For businesses, having set pay periods aids in cash flow management. It allows them to anticipate and allocate funds for payroll expenses more effectively.
  • Knowing when they will receive their pay provides employees with a sense of financial security and stability. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and morale.
  • Many benefits, such as retirement contributions and insurance premiums, are based on regular paycheck deductions. 

Employers have the flexibility to set the pay period schedule depending on their business practices, but they must do so in accordance with relevant labor laws to ensure it doesn’t impact employees negatively.

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