Leap Year Wages: Do I Get Paid Extra?

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2024 is a leap year, and employees may question if they get paid extra for the additional day they work. As many know, leap years are a quadrennial occurrence (happens every four years), where February has an extra day. But what several don’t know is whether this affects their salary.

Below, we explore when employees could be paid extra because of a leap year and important exceptions employers mustn’t forget. Then, we discuss other considerations employers should have to ensure the workplace remains dispute-free.

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Which Employees Get Paid Extra During a Leap Year?

Employers should look at their pay structure when addressing whether employees will be paid extra during the 2024 leap year. This can be divided into employees who get paid an annual salary and those who receive an hourly rate.

Do Workers Paid Hourly Get Paid Extra?

Employees who are paid by the hour receive money reflective of the time they have worked. Therefore, these individuals must be paid extra for any time worked on 29 February, just like any other day. 

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If the employee is paid weekly, this won’t be apparent on their payslip. This is because the amount they work that week will be the same as those previously worked. However, the extra day worked would be shown on their payslip if they receive monthly pay.

What About Annually Paid Workers?

Alternatively, an employee could be paid a fixed annual salary. If this is the case, the employee would generally not be entitled to be paid extra. That’s because their salary isn’t contingent on the time they’ve worked each day.

Despite this, there are some exceptions employers must be aware of to ensure they remain legally compliant. Firstly, employers must ensure the additional day doesn’t cause an employee’s salary to drop below the national minimum wage. If this were to occur, the employer could face legal action. Therefore, running compliance checks and adjusting salaries appropriately can prevent this from happening.

Salaried employees generally don't get paid extra in a leap year. However, they might if their pay drops below the national minimum wage or it's in their employment contract.

The other exception employers must be aware of concerns an individual’s contract of employment. As mentioned, employees who receive an annual salary are typically not entitled to extra pay. However, if someone’s employment contract contains a term explicitly entitling them to be paid extra, this must occur. Failure to comply with this term could amount to a breach of contract and potentially lead to a claim.

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Therefore, employers must understand their employees’ pay structure and consider these exceptions. By understanding the above and proceeding correctly, employers can ensure they remain legally compliant and avoid claims.

Employer Considerations During a Leap Year

In addition to employees being paid extra, other considerations must be addressed concerning the leap year. Firstly, a leap year would change the date if an employer pays wages on the last day of the month. In such circumstances, employers should inform their employees early about whether they will be paid on 28 or 29 February. This will give employees time to budget their finances ahead of the abnormality.

Essential Calculations for Employers

The extra day could also alter key calculations towards the end of February. Among other things, this includes:

  • The number of days before an employee could be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP). SSP becomes available when an eligible employee has been ill for at least four consecutive days. Therefore, if they become sick on 27 February, typically, they would be entitled to SSP on 2 March. However, they would be entitled to SSP on 1 March during a leap year.
  • When an employer must give notice of an individual’s termination of employment, including its effective date. The extra day must be considered if an employer hands an employee their notice towards the end of February. If the employer forgets to include this, they could unnecessarily pay the employee for an extra day. 
  • The date an employee must request annual leave to abide by workplace policies. Again, if this runs over February and March, employees will have an extra day to make a request. For example, if employees must request annual leave at least two weeks in advance and someone’s going away on 6 March, usually, they would have to ask by 20 February. However, they would have until 21 February to make such a request during a leap year. Therefore, employers must be careful when rejecting such requests based on the time given.

Should employers calculate the above correctly and ensure eligible employees are paid extra, they will help keep the workplace dispute-free. This can go a long way to saving costs and improving the working environment.

We hope you enjoyed this insight into the employment law sector. Sign up for our newsletter now to ensure you don’t miss future updates. If you have any legal queries, contact Redmans Solicitors to find out if you’re eligible for their help.

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