Christmas Bonuses: 9 Countries That Don’t Play Scrooge



It may not be politically correct to label this time of year the Christmas season but many governments nonetheless have decided that workers should receive some type of Christmas bonus.

The method for calculating mandatory bonuses range widely, from an extra month’s pay to a percentage of an employee’s paycheck. In some countries, such as France, Germany and the U.S., employers are not obligated to give Christmas bonuses, although the practice may be customary or required under a collective bargaining agreement.

Here are several countries that require an employer bonus for employees during the holiday season.

Angola: Angolan labor law entitles employees to a Christmas bonus and a holiday bonus. The bonuses are 50 percent of one month’s base wages, or an extra month of wages known as the 13th month salary. Employees who have worked less than a year must receive a prorated bonus. The law is unique in that an extra month should be added to the total number of months worked when calculating the prorated rate.

Brazil: Employees are entitled to a Christmas bonus called the 13th monthly salary, which is based on the average monthly compensation received by employees in the preceding year. The bonus should be delivered in two payments—by Nov. 30 and Dec. 20.

Dominican Republic: Employers must pay employees a Christmas bonus by Dec. 20 each year. The bonus is to equal 1/12 of a worker’s annual salary and be at least five times the minimum wage.

Greece: Employees are entitled to an extra month’s wages for Christmas. Those who worked less than a year receive a prorated bonus. The bonus must be paid no later than Dec. 21.

Mexico: Employers in Mexico are required to submit a Christmas bonus, known as Aguinaldo, that equals 15 days of regular wages to workers by Dec. 20. Employees who have worked less than a year receive a prorated bonus.

Philippines: Employees who have worked at least one month during the year are to receive a special payment known as a 13-month pay. Although the payment is required by Dec. 24, it is not characterized as a Christmas bonus because such payments are discretionary. The 13-month pay cannot be less than 1/12 of the total basic salary earned by an employee in a year.

Portugal: Employers are required to pay employees a Christmas bonus of an extra month’s salary by Dec. 15. Employees who have worked less than a year receive a prorated bonus.

Puerto Rico: Employers are required to give a Christmas bonus to employees who worked at least 700 hours from Oct. 1 to  Sept.  30. Employers with at least 16 employees pay 6 percent of a worker’s annual pay, up to $600. Employers with 15 or fewer employees are to pay 3 percent of a worker’s annual pay, up to $300. The bonus is to  be paid from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15 and may not  exceed 15 percent of the employer’s net annual profit.

Spain: Employers must pay all employees two bonuses a year. While payment dates should be set by labor agreements, it is customary for one of the bonuses to be given during the Christmas season.


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 Jared Mondschein is a research analyst for Bloomberg BNA’s International Payroll Decision Support Network.