A leap year occurs once every four years, extending February by one day. We find out if you get paid more on a leap year due to this extra Leap Day, as well as the traditions behind it.
Why do we have leap years?
The reason we have a leap year is that it takes a fraction longer than 365 days for the Earth to orbit the Sun. An extra day is added to our calendar once every four years to account for this discrepancy to ensure it’s in sync with the astronomical year.
Will I get paid extra on a leap year?
The extra day is classed as a normal working day, not a Bank Holiday. So what we all want to know is, do we get an extra day’s pay this year?
Well, whether or not you get paid more depends on how your employer calculates your wage (as set out in your contract).
If you get paid by the hour or by the amount of work you get through, then you could be entitled to more money. It depends if you’re putting in more hours than normal - bearing in mind it falls on a Saturday this year.
Also, your employer should make sure that this additional day doesn’t spread your earnings too thin on average. This is important if you earn the national minimum wage, as there’s a chance it could tip you below the legal threshold.
If you are salaried annually, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive more pay on a leap year, unless it’s written into your contract. Your total yearly salary will usually stay the same, so you’ll get the same amount each month (your annual salary divided by 12 months) - regardless of the number of days worked.
What traditions are associated with a leap year?
A leap year is marked by different traditions all over the world. Possibly the most well-known one is the Irish tradition of women being allowed to propose to men on a leap day. This custom supposedly started when St. Brigid of Kildare made a deal with St. Patrick back in the 5th century.
Scottish women had to wait until 1288 to be given permission to propose to men on a leap day. The law passed that year stated that any woman planning to propose should wear a red petticoat to alert her partner. And any man who refuses a marriage proposal on that day has to pay a fine to the woman (such as money, a dress or a pair of gloves for example).
In Denmark, they have taken this tradition a step further by introducing a rule where any man who refuses a proposal should buy the spurned woman 12 pairs of gloves. This means she always has a pair of gloves handy, to cover up the fact she doesn’t have an engagement ring.
In some countries like Scotland, Italy and Greece, a leap year is associated with bad luck. In Scotland, being born on 29th February is considered to be unlucky. Scottish farmers even have an old saying that a ‘leap year was never a sheep year’.
The Greeks say it’s unlucky to get married on a leap year, especially on Leap Day. Whilst the Italians think it’s best not to buy a house or a car in a leap year.
For others, it’s a cause for celebration. The city of Anthony in the US is known as the ‘Leap Year Capital of the World’, as they hold a four-day festival every leap year. This includes a birthday celebration for any ‘leaplings’ or ‘leapers’ born on 29th February.
Also, anyone born on a leap year can join a society which has been specifically set up in their honour, called the ‘The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies’.