2015 Payroll Leap Year Is Here 27 Pay Periods Instead of 26

2015 Leap Year


There is an unusual wage issue for 2015 that will affect many employers that pay exempt employees on a bi-weekly basis (rather than weekly, semi-monthly or monthly).

With 52 weeks in a year, there normally are 26 bi-weekly pay periods in a calendar year.  In 2015, however, there will be 27 for many employers.

2015 Payroll Leap Year

Different employers handle this in different ways. Some companies will divide your total annual pay by 27 instead of 26 to evenly distribute your wages, while others may simply treat the extra paycheck as a “bonus.” In either case, this has implications for many of your benefits:


  • FSA, HSA, 401K/403B, ESPP, and other pre-tax benefits are frequently deducted on a per-paycheck basis. If you’re the type that does the math to figure out when you can max out your 401k or if you have multiple 401ks you contribute to in the same year (switch jobs), this is an extra hiccup to be aware of. Likewise with PTO that accrues by the pay period or week.


  • If you are paid monthly, or semi-monthly this doesn’t apply to you. If you are paid weekly, your “leap year” happens every 5 or 6 years. The cycle also depends on what day of the week you close your pay period/issue checks and how you deal with payday holidays. I believe 2015 is only a leap year if your pay period ends on Sunday. This doesn’t mean you’ll get more checks in 2015, but you will work for 27 pay periods in 2015.


For example, if an employer has agreed to pay an exempt employee a salary of $75,000 per year, they would have paid the employee $2,884.62 in each of 26 bi-weekly paychecks in 2014.  But if the employer pays the employee that same $2,884.62 in each of 27 bi-weekly pay periods in 2015, the employer would end up paying the employee $77,884.74 in 2015 – not the $75,000.00 salary it had agreed to pay.
Due to the varying ways that biweekly paychecks can be calculated, not everyone will have an extra check in 2015. Some may experience it the next year, or some may have even had it this year already. In any case, it’s worth checking with your employer every year to determine your pay schedule so you can plan your benefits accordingly


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