The Leap Year Public Holiday Conundrum

This year is a leap year, which means that there are 29 days in February (if you needed to read that to know that I am not sure what to tell you – the rest of this might totally blow your mind). But, while speaking to someone at work today it dawned on me that I am now working an extra day this month, and overall this year, and I am being paid no differently than I was last year.

Now, I guess the following doesn't apply to waged staff, and maybe not even salaried staff who began their working life on a leap year, but for everyone else I think we should be given a day off on the 29th of February.

This is an idea that I don’t expect to face much criticism or opposition, but just in case here are a few reasons it might make sense:

It doesn’t cost anyone any money:

Do businesses budget for the 29th of February? Does a leap year budget account for an extra day of revenue? An extra days worth of power and other overhead costs?

I can’t say I have checked with every business ever, but I am going to throw it out there and say they don’t – so, to them this extra day is a complete anomaly. 

People don’t get paid for it:

Let’s say as a salaried worker you are expected to work every weekday – which obviously you aren’t because of public holidays, but accounting for that is far too difficult for me (as I want this to apply to all countries) – in a normal year you are going to work 261 days, leave you with 104 as weekends (you know, as there are 365 days in a year). In a leap year this average shoots up to 262 work days (with the same amount of weekends to get a total of 366 days – I really shouldn’t have to do all the math for you here).

So, that means in a leap year you do an extra day of work for no extra pay! It is exploitation I tells ya!

OK, so maybe that is blowing things out of proportion, but it is at least slightly something to think about, right? Especially when you considering it with…

You didn’t sign up for this:

Again, I am not claiming to be some employment contract lawyer, but I would assume that no contract spells out the standard days a year you are expected to work – at this point I imagine for a standard office job there would be a reference to working “standard office hours”, which is all good and well until the standard changes, or if someone has a different interpretation of standard. By this measure I feel it is tacitly implied by the contract that you will work for the standard number of days involved in the year in which you sign the contract – it is the only reasonable guess both parties can come to if it isn’t directly discussed (OK, so I made a few big leaps there, but, surely I was going to need to for my point).

Say you sign your contract in 2011, you are implicating saying “I am happy to work the standard number of weekdays as there are in the current year – 261”
(actually, 2011 had 260).
Meanwhile, the poor sap that signs their contract in 2012 is saying “I am happy to work the standard number of weekdays as there are in the current year – 262”
(actually, 2012 had 261, so both those years were bad examples – but if you go back to 07/08 you would have 261/262 and it balances out).

So where does this leave us? Well, if you sign your contract in a non-leap year on each leap year you should receive the 29th of February off, on the other hand, if you do sign a contract in a leap year every non-leap year you should work a weekend day at some point around the end of February to make up for the day you are not working in that year despite agreeing to it when you signed your contract.

(As an aside, I know none of this is relevant any more given the world is ending this year – but that still means there is one day it can have effect, and that day is tomorrow!)

It all balances out:

Making the assumption the same number of staff are hired each year then there is no overall effect for the businesses (though, as noted above they don’t budget for this, and aren’t paying for the extra day of productivity anyway, so really they always win – but that is what capitalism is meant to do, isn’t it). 

If you have 400 staff, 100 starting each year over four years, implementing this policy means 300 of the staff will get the day off, but 100 of the staff will not get the day off, and will work an extra day the other years as well, so, rather than having:

(400 * 261 * 3) + (400 * 262 * 1) = 418,000

 You end up with

(300 * 261 * 4) + (100 * 262 * 4) = 418,000

 And, unless I am totally missing something, those numbers are the same! That means everyone wins! (except for those people getting jobs in a leap year, they really, really, lose)


It is a showing of good faith:

Say you were going to work for two different businesses and one of them had voluntarily put in a policy to allow people to have the 29th of February off work while the other didn’t – assuming everything else was the same you are working for that business, right? They instantly give off the feeling that they care about you that little bit more, or at least, that they are reasonable? (in this case the opposite feelings are not directed at the business that doesn’t offer it because it is such an unusual position to take – but if a lot of places started offering the day off, it should catch on).

So, with that said I think this is an obvious initiative the Government should implement for the betterment of all society (other than leap year job seekers). It just makes sense.

…. OK, so there are a few flaws in this – most noticeably the idea that people should be punished for getting a job in a leap year – but even if you adjust it and let everyone have the 29th of February off work the overall effect has got to be positive, right? Who doesn’t like a public holiday? Also, isn’t the 29th the perfect public holiday – in that it is completely unbiased. There are no secret undertones at play here, there is no background religious (or Pagan, though I think that counts as religious) or Political reasons or meanings for the holiday, it is a completely genuine and simple chance for people to have a day off without the need to buy presents, go to Church, give a remembrance speech, or do anything else that is normally associated with public holidays – it is just a day off work.

How can anyone oppose that? 

Remember to tune in next week for my discussion of all Mondays being public holidays!

Here is a summary of the last 21 years: