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Leap Year Employment Law in New Zealand - Jay-Jay & Flynny investigate
We talk to an employment law expert to learn what rights Kiwis have around working a leap day - and if it's fair you're not getting paid extra
00:00 / 03:40
Kiwi As

Leap year 2024: Apparently you don’t have to work on Feb 29th - here’s what to tell your boss

Are we trapped in a loophole of working for no pay?

Calling all Kiwis! It's been revealed we're not getting paid for the extra day of work we put in every leap year, but we've asked a New Zealand employment lawyer, and it turns out you don't have to.

Yup, every four years we are working a whole extra day than what our salaries account for…That’s news to us!

And with February 29th peeking around the corner, we’re feeling ripped off already. So, what can we do about it? 

Our very own Jay Jay and Flynny chatted to employment law expert Max Whitehead to get to the bottom of it. 

“It’s a fact. Generally, salaried employees get paid the same rate of pay all the way through, and that’s every year [leap years included],” Ben began.

“There’s no doubt about it. The 29th of February is a day where you work for no pay.”

When asked if we should just take the day off, Whitehead responded: “I’ve got a better idea. The court said a salaried employee doesn’t have to work extra hours if they don’t want to.”

“Imagine if this whole nation of ours, everyone who earns a salary decides ‘we’re not working on Thursday,” he added.

Of course, Jay Jay had to cheekily ask if the big bosses could pull her up for choosing not to work on Thursday. And it turns out, legally, they can’t!

As Whitehead explains: “That’s what the court said… They can’t be forced to do it, so you can say no."

Some NZ workplaces might find themselves down a few employees at the end of this month now that this major loophole has been exposed. However, Whitehead doesn't think much will be done to compensate those who do choose to work.

“I think [Kiwi companies] will stick with the loophole. If you think about it, it’s minute money. Some companies might be [paying employees for the day], but I doubt it,” he said.

Frustrated, Flynny points out that it’s “ultimately not fair” for companies to be getting away with not paying employees for a full day of work. 

Whitehead agrees but doesn’t believe that any workplace is doing it deliberately. 

So, how do we feel about this? Will you be hitting up your boss for some extra cash, take the day off, or are we prepared to continue to let it slide?