Leap Year’s Hidden Cost: Canadian Salaried Workers Unpaid for Extra Day. On February 29, 2024, a unique situation arises for millions of Canadian salaried employees who, due to the leap year, will inadvertently provide a day’s work without additional compensation, effectively saving corporations an estimated $2 billion. This phenomenon does not affect hourly workers in the same way, as they stand to earn extra for the added workday, dependent on their employer’s discretion. The occurrence of an extra day every four years is designed to align our calendar with the Earth’s orbit around the sun, bringing not only an additional day of work for many but also no extra pay for those on a salary.
Salaried employees are typically paid a set annual amount, which does not adjust for the leap year’s extra day, except where specified by their contracts. This means that, particularly for those paid semi-monthly, the leap day will not reflect in their February paycheck. The issue is less clear-cut for biweekly paid employees, whose annual salary is divided across the year’s workdays, including the leap day, without altering their overall annual compensation, despite working an extra day.
In 2024, due to the leap year and how weekends are distributed, employees working weekdays will find themselves working 262 days, compared to 260 in the previous year, without a corresponding pay increase for the extra day worked. The Workers’ Action Centre views this as part of a broader issue of wage theft, a term used to describe various ways workers may be undercompensated, including for regular wages, overtime, and holiday pay, among others. The concern extends to salaried employees who, despite often enjoying certain job benefits, might be at greater risk of wage underpayment due to non-tracked work hours.
Leap Year’s Hidden Cost: Canadian Salaried Workers Unpaid for Extra Day
With 6.5 million salaried workers in Canada as of November 2023, making an average of $39.9 per hour without overtime, the leap year potentially allows Canadian corporations to withhold over $2 billion in wages for the extra workday, translating to a personal loss of approximately $319 per employee. This amount surpasses the monthly average grocery bill and represents a significant portion of monthly rent for many, underscoring the financial impact on individuals amidst the high cost of living.
Currently, no legislation mandates compensation or a day off for salaried employees working on leap day, leaving such decisions to employer discretion. However, some argue that working this extra day should be viewed as a reasonable expectation akin to other workplace accommodations made every four years, suggesting a balance of give and take in employer-employee relationships. Yet, this perspective may not extend to minimum wage salaried workers, who could end up earning less than the minimum wage due to the additional workday, prompting a reevaluation of compensation practices to ensure legal compliance and fairness.