Nova Scotia

Leap day means you might be working for free today

Getting up for work can be a challenge on most Mondays, but for some people who are paid an annual salary, clambering out of bed on leap day is a little more painful.

Salaried employees paid twice a month will be essentially volunteering their time

Leap years are needed to ensure the calendar doesn't fall out of sync with the weather. (The Canadian Press)

Getting up for work can be a challenge on most Mondays, but for some people who are paid an annual salary, clambering out of bed on leap day is a little more painful.

Some salaried employees are paid twice a month — on the 15th and the last day — and their annual salary is broken down into 24 payments.

With an annual salary based on 365 days of work, it means employees under this arrangement are essentially volunteering their services today, Feb. 29.

"In that instance, it would probably would mean they are being unpaid for one day of the year," said Gerald Walsh, president of Gerald Walsh Associates Inc., a human resources firm in Halifax.

With compensation being a sensitive issue for people, Walsh recommends firms talk to their employees about this.

"Before employees get too upset about a situation, any progressive employer should be jumping ahead of that situation and speak to them," said Walsh.

Why do we have leap days?

The Earth doesn't take exactly 365 days to orbit the sun. It's actually closer to 365.242 days. While that may not seem like much, it amounts to almost six extra hours a year, which does add up over the long run.

Without a leap year, our calendar would eventually fall out of sync with the weather.

Walsh said most salaried employees are paid every two weeks. The number paid twice a month is small so it's only a minority affected by leap day.

There is one cohort for whom a leap day is good news.

"For the hourly [paid] folks, if they're working an extra day, they'll get paid for those extra hours," said Lisa Kay, president and lead consultant of Peak Performance Human Resources Corp. in Toronto.


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