A leap year looms: extra staff pay and other problems solved

You might not have thought too much about next year’s potential extra workday. But take it from me, it’s probably a good time to start.

Because every time a leap year comes around, there’s a sharp spike in calls from frantic business owners to our 24-hour HR helpline.

Whether it’s about rotas, complaining staff, sickies or even staff pay, our advisers are always happy to help. But this time, we’re going one better…

Rather than wait until the leap year lands in your lap, here I round up the top leap day issues that UK employers face, explaining exactly how to deal with them.

Of course, if you’re already our client, leap days are much easier to manage—especially the financial side (more on that later). But let’s start with the basics.

“How do I decide who works the leap day?”

For a lot of employers with staff who work shifts, making rotas is a thankless task—even at the best of times.

It’s hard work, can sometimes be messy to organise, and if employees aren’t happy with their shifts, they certainly let you know about it. And that’s for rotas without an extra workday.

So ahead of next year, be ready for pushback from people who don’t want to work the leap day. Save yourself from the moans about unfairness, or working outside their regular schedule, or any other excuse.

Plan early and plan well. Tell your staff in advance what’s coming, perhaps see who’s open to working, and make and share your rota long before 29th February.

Manage rotas the easy way: Build, draft and make changes to rotas online in minutes and share them with your team with our online HR software and app.

“An employee has kicked up a fuss about working the extra day. He demands a duvet day instead. Should I allow it?”

Without knowing your company policies, I wouldn’t recommend one way or the other whether to allow the unscheduled absence (or ‘duvet day’). So instead, find out why he feels he needs time off.

Is he struggling with his workload? Is he exhausted? Is his morale low? If so, a duvet day is unlikely to change that.

It’s better to be proactive about your staff’s wellbeing, so it’s worth putting in place a clear mental health strategy. Having happier, healthier staff means fewer absences, greater productivity, and a better working atmosphere.

Admittedly, getting to that stage is a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

Do it like a Peninsula client: Give staff access to our employee assistance programme, which helps businesses increase overall attendance by as much as 45%.

“Looking through my records, some people have been conveniently off sick on leap days. Any advice?”

By law, most employees are entitled to paid sick leave. Of course, that’s open to exploitation by some people.

And when yearly staff absences cost as much as £550 per employee, it’s understandable to be dubious about people calling in sick on 29th February. My advice? Simple…

Check your sickness absence policy’s up to date, if you have one. And if you don’t, get one fast.

Because it should outline every aspect of how you treat sick leave—from the moment staff call in, through to how much you pay them, right up to and beyond their returns to work.

When you follow a documented sick leave process, you give yourself an extra layer of protection against a tribunal claim from an employee.

Manage sick leave the easy way: rather than try to make your own policy and risk making mistakes, Peninsula’s qualified experts do it for you.

“Do I give my staff an extra day’s pay?”

This is the big one. And the answer is:

Yes. And no.

Because it depends on whether your staff are salaried or they get paid hourly. Those that you pay based on the number of hours they work should get paid for working an extra day.

Meanwhile, salaried staff (those who get the same regular wage) shouldn’t get any extra pay. But it’s not quite so simple.

It’s rare, but some salaried employees’ contracts might say they should get paid more for working a leap day, so it’s worth checking before you run your payroll. But there’s an even bigger risk.

The leap day might accidentally send some of your salaried staff’s earnings below the legal national minimum, which is one of the biggest reasons the government regularly fines business owners thousands of pounds under its public ‘naming and shaming’ scheme.

Avoid staff pay mistakes the easy way: if you’re a Peninsula client, call our payroll advice line on 0844 892 2772 (option 3). Not a client? Not a problem. We’ll find the best ways help you when you speak with an expert today on 0800 028 2420

Wrapping it up

So there you have it. The biggest leap day challenges that may lie ahead and how to prepare for them. And if you’re already a client?

Well, you may not be able to put your feet up come 29th February, but with our help you’ll be free to focus on the work you should be doing—not leap year admin.

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