A picture frame with three tags hanging on it sits on a white wall. The first tag has the word February on it, while the other two tags spell out the number 29.
Image: © monitor6/Stock.adobe.com

Will employees get an extra day’s pay for the leap year?

26 Jan 2024

With 2024 being a leap year, BrightHR’s Thea Watson takes a look at whether workers should get an extra day’s pay for 29 February.

We all know the score when it comes to leap years. Once every four years we have an extra day in the calendar, 29 February. The last one was in 2020, so we’re due one this year.

This means business as usual for most of us. But employers like you might wonder how this affects employee pay entitlements.

If an employee works an extra day this February that they didn’t work last February, should you give them extra pay?

How to manage leap year wages

Ultimately, your employee’s pay entitlements on 29 February 2024 will depend on whether you pay them an hourly rate or a set salary. Let’s take a look at the difference.

Workers on an hourly rate

These staff members are entitled to be paid for all of the time they work. This means if they’ve worked an extra day, you will have to pay them for the extra time. If the 29 February falls on a day they would be working anyway, you must pay them as usual.

So, if your employee earns an hourly wage and works an extra eight hours on 29 February due to the leap year, they’re entitled to receive an extra eight hours of pay.

Put simply? Additional work means additional pay.

Click here to go to the BrightHR website.

Salaried workers

On the other hand, employees who receive the same basic pay every month are not entitled to any extra pay. Despite potentially working an additional day this year.

This is because they’re paid a set salary for the whole year. And the extra leap year day will have already been factored into their overall earnings.

The only time you would have to pay salaried staff more on a leap year is if there’s a term in their staff contract that explicitly states they get additional pay at this time of year, so make sure to check yours.

Keep an eye on the legal rate

That said, you need to be careful that the extra day doesn’t take your employee’s pay below the minimum legal rate.

Let’s say your employee is a salaried employee on the national minimum wage. If they work an extra day in February for no extra money, their hourly rate drops. So, you’ll need to be careful you don’t underpay them.

By Thea Watson

Thea Watson is the chief international growth and marketing officer at BrightHR. A version of this article was previously published on the BrightHR blog.

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