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What is a Payroll Cycle And Why is it Important?

A payroll cycle determines the frequency and schedule of paydays. The five most common payroll cycles followed in India are daily, weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, and monthly.

The payroll cycle is an essential business process that covers how and when employees get paid. For companies operating in India, it’s important to understand the country’s payroll compliance requirements and set up a cycle that aligns with labour laws as well as organizational needs.

A payroll cycle determines the frequency and schedule of paydays. It starts from the beginning of a pay period, when employee work hours are tracked, and runs through paycheck delivery when compensation is issued to employees. The five most common payroll cycles followed in India are daily, weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, and monthly.

The choice of payroll cycle depends on a company’s headcount, compliance needs, and preferences. A shorter cycle allows more frequent paydays while a monthly cycle minimizes the administrative workload. Most Indian companies follow either a semi-monthly or monthly cycle.

Having a streamlined payroll cycle is an important backbone of healthy employee relations. This guide will walk through payroll cycle specifics in India to help businesses setup and manage employee payments effectively.

What are the 5 Types of Payroll Cycles Followed in India?

The right payroll cycle depends on balancing business needs, employee expectations, and compliance factors. There are five types of payroll cycles followed by companies in India:

1. Daily Payroll Cycle

  • Employees are paid on a daily basis, with the pay period being a single day.
  • Suitable for daily wage workers, contract labourers etc.
  • Allows employees to receive salaries for work done each day.
  • Involves a very high administrative workload for daily processing.
  • Tracking attendance and work hours on a daily basis is crucial.
  • Payment can be cash or bank transfer depending on worker preference.

2. Weekly Payroll Cycle

  • Employees are paid on a weekly basis, with the pay period being Sunday to Saturday.
  • Paydays are usually every Friday or the last working day of the week.
  • Suitable for hourly wages, retail, restaurants etc.
  • Allows employees to receive salaries frequently but involves high administrative work.
  • Some companies follow a hybrid model of weekly payroll for hourly workers and monthly payroll for salaried staff.

3. Biweekly Payroll Cycle

  • The pay period is 2 consecutive weeks, payday is every alternate week.
  • Reduces processing workload compared to weekly payroll.
  • Each month has 2 pay periods and employees get 2 pay checks per month.
  • Works for many industries including manufacturing, marketing, professional services etc.

4. Semi-monthly Payroll Cycle

  • The pay period is twice a month, with pay dates on the 15th and last day of the month.
  • Offers predictability with mid and end-of-the-month paychecks.
  • Suitable for salaried employees and smaller organizations.
  • Moderate administrative workload.

5. Monthly Payroll Cycle

  • The pay period is the entire calendar month, payday is the last day of the month.
  • One paycheck per month is easiest to manage administratively.
  • Aligns well for salaried staff and office jobs.
  • The most common payroll cycle is followed by mid to large companies in India.

What are the Key Dates in the Payroll Cycle?

When setting up payroll, some key dates must be defined that act as milestones in the payroll cycle.

Pay Period End Date

The pay period end date marks the end of the current cycle after which salaries are processed for that period. For example, if pay periods are semi-monthly, the pay period end dates will be the 15th and last day of each month. All employee hours and attendance data are gathered until this cutoff date.

Pay Date

The pay date is the day when employee salaries for that pay period are actually disbursed. This is usually 1-7 days after the pay period end date to allow time for payroll processing. Companies may choose a Friday or month-end date that aligns with their cycle.

Cut-off Date for Timesheet Submission

The timesheet cut-off date is 1-2 days before the pay period ends when all employee timesheets and attendance data must be submitted. This gives the payroll team time to review data and ensure all inputs are accounted for in that cycle. Late submissions may only get adjusted in the next payroll.

Properly setting and communicating these key dates to employees ensures a smooth payroll process. The pay period end date and pay date depend on the chosen frequency such as weekly, biweekly etc. The timesheet cut-off provides a buffer to process inputs.

Automation through payroll software can help manage some key dates like timesheet deadlines. However, companies should inform all stakeholders involved in payroll about important cut-offs relevant to their role. This discipline in sticking to dates enables efficient processing of salaries.

What are the Typical Steps in Payroll Processing?

Payroll processing involves a series of steps to accurately calculate and disburse employee salaries each period. Here are the key steps:

1. Gathering Timesheet Data

Employee timesheets contain hours worked, attendance, leaves, overtime etc for that pay period. These are submitted to the payroll team as per the defined cut-off date. Accurate timesheet data is essential for payroll processing.

2. Calculating Gross Pay

Using timesheet data and employee pay rates, the gross salary is calculated for each employee for that pay period. This includes regular pay, overtime, and bonuses if applicable.

3. Determining Deductions

Any payroll deductions like TDS, ESI, and PF contributions are accounted for to arrive at the net payable amount. Deductions depend on income tax rules, company policies and statutory compliance.

4. Finalizing Net Pay

Net pay is calculated by deducting all deductions from the gross salary. This final payable amount for each employee is generated.

5. Issuing Salary Payments

On payday, the net salary amount is disbursed to each employee through online transfer, cheque or cash as per the company’s pay mode.

6. Reporting and Reconciling

Payroll registers are maintained, and reports are generated to record salaries paid. Reconciliation is done to ensure payments match company payroll records and employee bank statements.

What are the Major Payroll Compliance Aspects in India?

Running payroll involves adhering to various labour laws and regulations in India. Some key compliance aspects include:

Labor Laws

Companies must comply with major labour laws like the Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, ESI, EPF etc. These cover minimum pay, overtime, employee benefits and contributions. Violations can lead to penalties.


Salary income tax is deducted at source as per income tax slab rates. Additional tax rules apply for perquisites, reimbursements etc. Form 16 and 12BA have to be issued to employees annually.

Statutory Returns

Important payroll returns filed monthly and annually include:

  • ESIC Challan
  • PT or TDS returns
  • Form 24Q and Annexure II (annual)

Missing deadlines for returns can lead to interest and penalties.

Maintaining Registers

Various registers like wage register, overtime register, attendance etc need to be maintained. These serve as evidence during labour inspections.

Nitso payroll software can help generate compliance reports and filings accurately and on time get in touch for a free demo.

How can Nitso Payroll Software Help Streamline Processes?

Payroll software has become an essential tool for automating and streamlining payroll management in India. Some benefits of using Nitso payroll software include:

  • Automates salary calculations as per company policies and Indian labour laws
  • Helps maintain payroll registers and generate compliance reports
  • Seamlessly integrates with attendance systems and HR software like BoostHR or any other.
  • Allows customization for different pay cycles, pay grades etc.
  • Provides pre-configured tax calculation rules for accurate deductions
  • Generates pay slips, Form 16, ESI/PF challans and other filings
  • Simplifies preparation and filing of e-TDS returns
  • Provides data analytics and dashboards for payroll insights
  • Offers various implementation options – web-based, on premise, mobile apps

Implementing payroll software boosts efficiency, reduces compliance risks and provides insightful payroll data to aid decision-making.

What Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing a Payroll Cycle?

Choosing an appropriate payroll cycle depends on evaluating several factors:

  1. Employee Type and Pay Structure: For hourly/daily wage workers, a weekly or daily cycle may be suitable. Monthly payroll works for salaried employees. Pay cycles should match the pay structure.
  2. Industry Standards and Norms: Some industries have standard payroll cycles based on norms and regulations. For example, monthly payroll for office jobs, and weekly for retail stores.
  3. Organizational Size: Larger companies prefer monthly cycles while smaller ones can manage more frequent weekly/biweekly ones. The cycle impacts payroll workload.
  4. Compliance Requirements: Labor law and tax compliance requirements like payment frequency, and filing due dates should be considered.
  5. Payroll Software Capabilities: The capabilities and optimal cycles supported by the payroll software platform selected also impact suitability.
  6. Operational Considerations: Billing cycles, account closures, budgeting periods etc if synchronized well with payroll cycles can benefit operations.
  7. Employee Expectations: Employee convenience is served better with frequent payroll. But less frequent cycles are easier to manage administratively.
  8. Cost of Processing Payroll: Frequent payroll cycles increase administrative and accounting workload which raises processing costs.

Evaluating the above factors comprehensively helps select the most appropriate payroll cycle that meets compliance needs and organizational fit.

Conclusion: How can an Optimized Payroll Cycle Benefit Businesses?

Setting up a well-defined payroll cycle aligned to business needs and compliance requirements is key for smooth payroll processing in India. Automating routines through software while adhering to timelines and procedures will ensure accurate salary disbursements.

This payroll guide covers major aspects like cycle types, key dates, processing steps and compliances to help companies implement a structured payroll system. An optimized payroll cycle contributes immensely to employee satisfaction and business success.

Answers to Common Questions about Payroll Cycles

What are the main types of payroll cycles followed in India?

The four common payroll cycles in India are weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, and monthly. Most companies follow semi-monthly or monthly payroll.

When should employees submit their timesheets or attendance data?

Employees should submit completed timesheets or attendance data by the defined cut-off date, usually 1-2 days before the pay period end date.

How soon after the pay period ends are salaries disbursed?

The pay date is usually 1 week after the pay period end for weekly cycles and 1-7 days for other cycles. This allows time for processing payroll after the end date.

What are some key Indian labour laws affecting payroll?

Important laws are the Minimum Wages Act, ESI, EPF, and Payment of Wages Act. They cover minimum pay, overtime, benefits and more.

What are some common statutory returns related to payroll?

Key filings include monthly ESI & EPF challans, TDS returns, and annual PT and 24Q returns for income tax.

How does payroll software help with compliance?

Payroll software automates compliance report generation and ensures timely filing of returns via reminders.

Can Nitso payroll software integrate with other HR systems?

Yes, quality payroll software allows integration with attendance systems, HR platforms, banks etc. for seamless data exchange.

Does payroll processing happen internally or get outsourced?

Many companies manage payroll internally while some outsource to external vendors. The approach depends on internal bandwidth.

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