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Pay Frequency and Lag Time Requirements by State and Municipality

Author: Alice Gilman

State wage payment laws control how often employees must be paid as well as how soon they must be paid after they perform services for an employer. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act only generally requires that an employer pay its employees "promptly."

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) releases annual income tax withholding tables that are based on specific pay periods - weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual, annual and daily or miscellaneous. The vast majority of state wage payment laws require an employer to choose an IRS-sanctioned pay period for paying wages to their employees. A handful of states, however, do not give employers a choice of which pay period(s) they may use. Other states require employers in certain industries to pay according to state-approved pay periods. An employer that fails to pay employees on time may be subject to state penalties and fines.