Once every four years, one theory goes, workers are providing unpaid labor. Economists weigh in on whether the Leap-Day math adds up
Every four years, Leap Year arrives, adding an extra day to February — a day on which, some argue, American workers unwittingly work for free. Here's the theory: Since most workers receive a fixed annual salary based on a 365-day year, that extra day on February 29 means salaried workers are providing employers with one day of indentured servitude. "Many employers just get a 'free' day of work from exempt workers because they are not paying anything more than in non-leap years," employment attorney Daniel Schwartz tells NBC News. So, should we all just leave the office now?
Yep. Go home: "No one should work on Feb. 29" unless they want to, says Gene Weingarten at The Washington Post. Because Leap Day is an extra calendar day, "it should be ours to pilot." Those in support should rally on the "No Work on Leap Day Revolution" Facebook page, which encourages supporters to: "Sleep in. Eat like there's no tomorrow. Dance wildly through the streets. Or don't. Just live and breathe according to your own heart's desires."
"Should Leap Day be a free day?"
We're not exactly providing free labor: "You're not working for free on Leap Day," says Frank Heinz at NBC. "You're just working for less than normal." It all comes down to math. A typical annual salary compensates employees for working 261 days each year. A leap year brings that total to 262 working days. A person with a $50,000 annual salary would therefore make $191.57 a day in a normal year, and $190.84 in a leap year — $0.73 less per day. That's "not a big deal, right?" As for hourly workers, they receive a full additional day's pay in a leap year.
"You aren't working for free on Leap Day, just for less"
Either way, Leap Day doesn't help the economy: It seems logical that, because a leap year is 0.27 percent longer than a typical year, 0.27 percent more economic activity would also take place, boosting the economy, says Matthew Yglesias at Slate. But in reality, the extra day hardly does anything for the economy. "Taking a full 24 hours to do another 24 hours of work doesn't change anything." On the other hand, increasing the density of economic activity by creating the same output in a shorter year would provide a boost.
"The economic impact of Leap Day"
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