How many salary weeks in a year?

If you get paid weekly or biweekly, whether a regular salary or by the hour, you may be wondering how many salary weeks there are in a year. This all depends on how many weeks of vacation, or other non-working, unpaid time you take off. It also depends on whether or not your employer offers you paid vacation time.

One year on Earth is divided into 52 weeks. (Really, the exact figure is 52.177457 weeks per year if you are measuring the entire time that the planet takes to revolve around the sun.) If you work every week, or take off no more time than your allotted paid vacation time allows, then you have 52 salary weeks in a year. For biweekly payrolls (payments every other week), this means there are 26 pay periods per year.

Most people don’t work every week, however, and may take some time off for vacation, due to sickness, or to take care of family needs. If your employer offers you paid vacation time, you will be paid for this non-working time as if you were regularly at work, as allowed by your employer’s vacation rules.

If you are not offered paid vacation time, or have used it all, additional time off will be deducted from your salary. It is very typical in the United States for employees to take off two weeks from their job every year, in which case, without any paid vacation, they are paid for 50 salary weeks in a year. Accordingly for workers who take off four weeks out of the year away from their jobs (as is common in many European countries), without any paid vacation, there are 48 salary weeks in a year.

There is one more complication because the 365 days of the year are not cleanly divisible by 7 days per week. Because of this, there will be 53 pay weeks per year, once every 5 or 6 years. For biweekly payrolls, there with be a 27 pay periods per year, once every 11 years.

If you are looking to estimate how much money you make per year based on your hourly pay rate and your working number of salary weeks, try our simple salary calculator.

4 thoughts on “How many salary weeks in a year?

  1. jason

    In the US people get PAID vacations… so even though people may take 2 weeks away from work (4 in my case) they still get paid for it.. it is called vacation pay….

    1. Andy Post author

      Hi Jason,

      Good point, although the situation is more complex than you describe. There is no federal law that mandates employers to give their employees paid vacation time. Therefore, there are very few laws that regulate amounts of paid vacation or how it accrues. Some workers are not given any paid vacation time at all, and still many more will take additional time off unpaid.

      Most employers offer paid vacations to their workers simply to make themselves a more attractive employment option. By Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, over 90% of full-time employees in the United States receive some paid vacation time, while just under 40% of part-time employees receive some paid vacation time.

      I will update this post to try to clarify this issue. Thank you.

    1. Andy Post author

      Hi Ed, great question.

      If you are in the United States, federal law and most jurisdictions unfortunately do not limit the number of hours that your employer can ask you to work. Unless you are in certain exempted professions, the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that you be paid an overtime bonus salary of no less than one and one-half times your normal salary for all hours over 40 in one workweek. This is an attempt to give employers an economic motive not to overwork their employees.

      Labor unions also frequently attempt to protect their members from being overworked by specifying hours as part of their negotiations.

      Your particular jurisdiction may have additional wage and hour laws that apply to your situation (For instance: In certain professions the law may also require to provide you a rest period of 24 hours of more per week.), so you should contact your state’s department of labor, and/or a nearby legal aid organization that deals with labor issues, for additional information. There could possibly be additional laws that apply in your situation that indeed protect you from being asked to work 12 hours per day, or provide for additional overtime pay.

      Hope this helps.

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