Dear Lifehacker, I’m on a fixed salary, which is based on the amount of hours 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
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, if you’re not covered by a specific award or enterprise agreement, any overtime you work usually goes unpaid. Whether you religiously clock off on the dot or stay back several hours every day, your pay packet remains the same.
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 $50,000 last year and didn’t receive a pay rise, you’re going to get $50,000 this year too.
This might seem bitterly unfair on paper, but really, it’s not that big of a deal. When you think about it, you’re still working five days of the week, just like normal. It’s not like the government is adding two Mondays in a row. (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!
This story has been updated since its original publication.