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Good Question: Do You Work For Free On Leap Day?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every four years, like magic, we get an extra day — 366 days, for the price of 365. But is that bonus year really a bonus? Do people on salary work an extra day for free?

If you divide your salary by the number of days in a year, then it can appear that you’re getting a raw deal. One could argue that you’re working one day more than you did last year. Are you really working for free?

Rebecca Wenzel, a manager for ADP, the largest payroll processor in Minnesota, said it’s not a free day in a philosophical sense, nor is it free (generally) in a technical sense.

“You could also argue that you signed up to get paid on an annualized basis and not a per diem basis,” said Wenzel.

Most of us get paid every other week, so in that sense, the number of days in any given month doesn’t really make a difference. Every two weeks, we get paid.

If you get paid on set days, twice a month (like the 5th and 20th) then you are technically working an extra day if the 29th of February falls on a weekday.

But take a look at the total weekdays in a year. In 2012, a leap year, there are 261 weekdays. In 2011, there were 260. But in 2010 and 2009 there were the same number of weekdays as there are this year: 261.

That makes it hard to argue that you’re losing a day of pay in a leap year.

What about prisoners? Are they spending an extra day behind bars if they’re sentenced to a year in prison?

“Yes,” said Sarah Berg, a Minnesota Department of Corrections spokesperson.

According to Berg, prison sentences are made in months, not in days. So if you are sent away for 12 months, it doesn’t matter if those months have 28 or 29 days.

Attorney Marshall Tanick traced the history of Leap Day Law, and found a legal case in 1992.

According to Tanick, a Minnesota counterfeiter challenged his 10-year prison sentence, saying the leap years added time. But the state Supreme Court rejected that, ruling that prison sentences are in months, not days.

And what about that Leap Day birthday? The young babies born on February 29, 2012 won’t have a 29th of February when they turn 21, the legal age for drinking alcohol.

In the eyes of the state, the 29th is closer to a March 1 birthdate. Driver’s licenses renew on March 1, and the legal date to start drinking is the same date.

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