Ask LH: Why Don't I Get Paid Extra During Leap Years?

Dear Lifehacker, My annual salary is based on the amount of days I work per year. However, on leap years the pay remains the same as non-leap years. Shouldn’t I be getting paid eight hours extra? Or am I expected to work an entire day for free? Thanks, Feeling Ripped Off

Feb 29 picture from Shutterstock

Dear FRO,

In short, you’re expected to work an entire day for free. Back in the time-clock era, workers’ pay was calculated daily based on when they punched in and punched out. These days, most Australians have a fixed annual wage based on a 38-hour work week.

Unfortunately, without any awards or enterprise agreements in place, the overtime you work usually goes unpaid. Whether you religiously clock off on the dot or stay back several hours each and every day, your weekly/monthly pay packet remains unchanged.

The same goes for leap years. These were inserted into the Gregorian calendar around 400 years ago in a bid to keep each calendar year synced with the Earth’s circumnavigation of the Sun. Without leap years, the calendar months and astronomical seasons would slowly drift apart, resulting in the Australian summer falling in June some 750 years from now.

While this is great for future generations, it means that most workers on fixed annual wages are condemned to a full day of lost earnings. If you got paid $50k last year and didn’t receive a pay rise, you’re going to get $50k this year too. Tch.

This might seem bitterly unfair on paper, but really, it’s not that big of a deal. When you think about it, you still only have to work five days next week, just like normal. It’s not like the government is adding two Mondays to the calendar in a row. (Er, if anyone from the Department of Employment is reading this, don’t get any ideas!)

Still, if this literal astronomical injustice is irking you, we suggest you indulge in the time-honored tradition of chucking a sickie. You can find tips on how to pull this off successfully here. Enjoy your “extra” day off!


Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact form.

Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Trending Stories Right Now