Do I have to pay staff more when it's a leap year?

  • Pay & Benefits
calendar on february month with person circling the 29th day
Alan Price - Peninsula's Chief Operations Officer and CEO of BrightHR

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer

(Last updated )

Four years have passed by, and we find ourselves in another leap year. The last time we ticked off 29th February in our calendars was 2020. And now, it’s making a reappearance in 2024.

Why is this important to HR? Well, it sparks questions – like do you have to pay your staff for an extra day’s work in February? Do you need to give your staff the day off work? And do your contracts have anything to say about this?

Well to clear things up, here’s how you should manage staff wages in a leap year…

Look out for 29th February

In a standard year, the 28th day of February is the final day of the month. During a leap year, we get an extra day tacked onto this month, so it ends on 29th day.

So, does this mean you’ll need to top up staff wages to count in an extra day of work? Well, entitlement to more pay will depend on how you normally pay your staff.

For workers paid an hourly rate on a weekly basis…

Let’s say you pay your worker an hourly wage on a weekly basis.

You wouldn’t have to pay them for an extra day that week because if they usually work five days a week, they would still be working five days a week even with the extra day of the month.

For workers paid an hourly rate on a monthly basis…

If you pay workers an hourly wage on a monthly basis, the rules change because your worker’s pay reference period now includes an extra day.

Your worker might usually work 20 days in February but because of the extra day on 29th, they’d be working 21 days that month. So, you would need to pay them extra to cover those additional hours.

For workers paid a salary…

If you pay your staff a salary, you wouldn’t need to change your worker’s pay at all.

Salaries should already take into account that staff may have to work additional or fewer hours at times, so this gets factored into your worker’s earnings overall.

You would only have to give a worker on a salary extra pay in a leap year if your contract says this is one of their entitlements. So, you should check your employment contracts to see if this is the case.

Remember, an extra day might affect minimum wage

If your staff earn just above or around the national minimum wage, you’ll need to be careful that working an extra day doesn’t drop their pay to below the legal minimum.

If you pay staff hourly and they work an extra day with no extra pay, their average hourly rate will drop. So, you’ll need to make sure you don’t end up underpaying staff or you could land yourself in legal trouble.

You don’t have to give staff 29th February off work unless…

…they ask for it and you say yes.

Your worker doesn’t have a right to take this day off. If they want to take 29th February off work, they’ll need to submit a holiday request and you should follow your usual process for managing leave requests from staff.

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