What strange event happens every four years? No, it's not the Presidential race — although "strange" certainly sums up the 2016 race nicely. We are thinking more about Leap Year.
February 29 falls on a Monday this year, making it just another workday for most people. Do you get paid for that extra workday? That depends on your status and the pay policies at your workplace. If you are an hourly employee on the clock, it represents an extra workday and an extra salary for that workday, so your income for the year increases by one day's pay. If you are a salaried employee, things get a bit more interesting.
Typically, salaried employees are paid on an annualized salary basis. Your pay is spread out based on the number of increments in that year. For example, if you are paid biweekly, your salary is 14/366ths of your salary in 2016 instead of 14/365ths. You can look at it as working for free that day if you want, but it is not uncommon for salaried employees to work longer hours than the forty-day workweek — so it is really just a matter of semantics.
The uneven division of both 365 and 366 into weekly increments, however, leads to other payroll-related leaps. For example, if you are paid weekly on a Monday, you receive an extra paycheck in years with 53 Mondays instead of the usual 52.
For workers who were paid biweekly (a typical arrangement), 2015 was a "payroll leap year" since it had 27 pay periods instead of the usual 26. Whether this resulted in actual extra pay for you depended on whether your company chose to divide your salary over 26 or 27 pay periods. (From a payroll perspective, both 2015 and 2016 can be considered back-to-back leap years.)
If an extra day's worth of wages and benefits were actually passed on to all employees in America, the cost to businesses would be approximately $33.37 per hour (average employer costs for employees as of September 2015) times almost 151 million workers, or approximately $5 billion dollars. No wonder many businesses have salaried employees working for free.
Leap years have other unusual money effects. With some banks, interest calculations can include that extra day in the basis for calculations, effectively cutting your interest rate by a tiny bit. How tiny? For reference, the difference in $100,000 earning 1% interest for sixty days between a leap year and non-leap year is approximately 45 cents.
On the positive side, leap years mean an extra day of many services with monthly subscription rates such as Netflix or other streaming services, cable TV, insurance coverage, and even the rent on your apartment. Enjoy your free services, but be careful of those that have a monthly limit like data plans. You probably will not receive any slack because of the extra day — after all, it is still the shortest month of the year even with an extra day added.
Feeling lucky? You can take advantage of many special travel and casino deals set up for February 29, and even try to take advantage of the stock market. Since 1928, the S&P 500 has only suffered three losses — but one of those was a whopper loss of 37% in 2008.
As far as the Presidential campaigns go, we assume it is just a coincidence that they align with leap years. Unfortunately, nowadays that just means an extra day of campaign ads.
RELATED: 13 things successful people do between jobs
13 things successful people do between jobs
Are you working for free on leap year day?
Minimize the stress of your first week in a new job by taking time to organize your personal life.
"Any projects around the house that have been nagging at the back of your mind? Now's the time to get them done," says Ryan Kahn, the founder of The Hired Group and creator of the best-selling How To Get Hired online course.
Miriam Salpeter, job search coach, owner of Keppie Careers, and author of "Social Networking for Career Success" and "100 Conversations for Career Success," says your break between jobs is the perfect time to schedule doctor appointments and deliveries that require you to be home, and to run any errands that may be difficult to get done once you start your new job.
"Take advantage of not having to be reachable during the day, and stop checking your email or looking at Facebook for an afternoon or two," says Sutton Fell. "This gives you a chance to reset your brain."
Instead of staring at a screen for hours on end — which you'll probably have to do as soon as you start your new job — pick up a book you've been dying to read, or go take an exercise class you've been wanting to try.
"Before starting a new job, take the time to ensure that you are maintaining the relationships you had formed at your previous job," Kahn says.
Make sure you have contact information for the people that you worked with in the past, and plan on checking in with them on a regular basis once you're in your new role.
We know we said earlier you should take a break from technology — but it's okay (and advised!) to take an hour to two during your time off to update your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles with your new company and job title.
You might not have a chance to do afternoon lunches with people for the first few months of your new job, so your break is a great time to do these, says Sutton Fell.
Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert and best-selling author, suggests using this break to spend time with family.
"When you start any new job you should expect to work longer hours — at least the first several months," she says. "Utilize this time to make the most of being at home."
Whether you can get away for a night or a week, take a trip somewhere to recharge, see new sights, and take full advantage of your time off, Sutton Fell says.
In today's competitive job market, the more senior the position, the more you will be scrutinized in those first few months, Kahn says.
"You'll be expected to hit the ground running versus spending time learning the ropes. Get a head start by researching the industry and the company, and learning as much as you can about the position and the team you will be working with," he suggests.
Give some thought to what you want to do differently from the start in this new job, Williams Yost says.
"Are you going to try to wake up earlier and get to the gym a couple of days a week? Are you going to try to schedule a networking lunch outside of the office once a month?" Use this time to establish a plan.
During this rare lull between jobs, think about where you are headed. Where do you want to be in five years? In 10 years? How will this job help you get there? Coming in knowing where you're going will help you stay on the right path from day one, Kahn says.
If your work schedule is shifting at all, it's important to organize things like childcare, household responsibilities, and your personal routine, Sutton Fell says.
Salpeter says if you altered your sleep schedule at all during your time off, you should try to get into a "work-oriented sleep routine" a few days before starting your new job.
Don't forget to spend some time on yourself. Take time to relax, get plenty of rest, and indulge in some pampering.
"Congratulate yourself on a job well done," Williams Yost says. "Treat yourself to a massage, new power outfit, or a nice dinner. You landed a job in a dim market; you should take the time to be proud of yourself."
Worried that it may be difficult to get back into the swing of things if you’re too relaxed during your time off? "Work is like riding a bike; once you start that first day, you'll click right back in," Williams Yost explains. "So don't worry about being too relaxed during your break. Drink it all in. Enjoy every minute of it. Then dive into your new gig with a new outfit, fresh outlook, and happy heart."