Are workers entitled to an extra day's pay in a leap year?

There’s an extra day in February this year, but do you need to pay your employees an extra day’s wages? Read on to find out.

First published on Thursday, Aug 13, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Jan 18, 2024

3 min read

We all know the score when it comes to leap years. Once every four years we have an extra day in the calendar, the 29th of 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 29th 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 29th 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 29th February due to the leap year, they're entitled to receive an extra eight hours of pay.

Put simply? Additional work means additional pay.

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.

Still have a question?

Speak to one of our HR experts today. They’ll give you confidential legal advice on the leap year and employee wages, and they’re available to take your call 24/7. Call today on 0800 783 2806.

Or ask BrightLightning: Do I have to pay employees more for leap years?

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