Wednesday 22 January 2020

State pay and social welfare costs up €169m due to leap year

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA

Anne-Marie Walsh

The leap year in 2020 will not just prove expensive for women who plan to splash out on an engagement ring, it is set to push up Government costs by up to €169m.

Additional pay days for staff and social welfare claimants mean the Government will have to spend more to meet its obligations.

HR and payroll professionals face a headache every four years when an extra day is added to the calendar as a corrective measure because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days.

The problem of extra pay days is not exclusive to leap years, but they are more likely.

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In any year with 365 days, one day of the week occurs 53 times.

But in a leap year there are 366 days, and two days of the week occur 53 times.

Whether staff end up with more money depends on whether the employer recalculates the salary and makes smaller payments or pays the same amount.

A Department of Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson revealed that the knock-on effect will lead to extra payments worth €169m.

"This consists of €95m for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, €57m for Education and €17m for An Garda Síochána," she said.

According to a Government expenditure report published on Budget day, in certain years a situation can arise where there are 53 social welfare payment dates and 27 pay periods for fortnightly paid public service workers within the calendar year.

"On this occasion, the leap year in 2020 will have impacts on expenditure allocations in 2020 and 2021," it said.

It said on the education and skills budget, for example, there will be a requirement for a one-off additional €57m for extra pay days in post-primary schools in 2020.

However, it said the most significant impact will be at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

"There are 53 Wednesdays and 53 Thursdays in 2020, which means that there is a requirement for an additional payment for a number of weekly social welfare benefits, such as disability allowance," it said.

Irish Independent

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