Which Countries Require 13th Month Pay? The Ultimate Guide

Here is an overview of 13th-month pay and what countries around the world offer 13th-month pay, as well as some background on why the United States lacks this form of compensation.

Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Dec 19, 20234 minutes
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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13 1920x1080 Which Countries Require 13th Month Pay The Ultimate Guide

Many countries throughout the world offer a bonus annual payment known as 13th-month pay. If your company is planning to expand across borders, you will need to understand what 13th-month pay is, as well as determine if 13th-month pay is legally required in the country where you plan to hire and pay workers.


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What is 13th-month pay? 

13th-month pay is a bonus employers offer or provide that is equivalent to one month’s salary, or one-twelfth of the employee's annual wage. In some countries, the bonus is statutory. In others, it’s a common perk. 13th-month salaries are a huge part of employment culture in Latin America and are referred to as aguinaldo in Spanish.

This extra payment is not considered a performance bonus, but instead an extra month's salary that is not tied to the employee’s metrics. Many businesses factor in the 13th-month pay when deciding on annual salaries. This bonus payment is normally paid at the end of the year, around Christmas and the New Year. 

In some countries, including Spain, employers can pay part of the 13th-month pay each month, as long as this is stipulated in the employment contract.

Where did 13th-month pay originate?

13th-month pay originated in the Philippines, where President Ferdinand Marcos codified the policy into law in 1975. 

Ever since, other former Spanish colonies, including many countries in Latin America, have also started offering a 13th-month bonus to compensate for low minimum wages. It was originally given as a Christmas bonus to ensure that workers did not have to worry about their bills and could celebrate the holidays by buying presents. 

What countries have 13th-month pay? 

Originating in the Philippines, the practice of giving a 13th-month bonus is also common across Latin America and Europe.

Countries that offer mandatory 13th-month bonuses include: 

  • Argentina

  • Brazil

  • Costa Rica

  • El Salvador

  • Guatemala

  • Mexico

  • Greece

  • Portugal

  • Italy

  • Indonesia

  • Saudi Arabia

Although not all countries around the world require a 13th-month pay, many countries offer some sort of customary bonus pay, including: 

  • Austria

  • Croatia

  • Czech Republic

  • Netherlands

  • France

  • Germany

  • Hong Kong

  • South Africa

  • United Arab Emirates

  • United Kingdom 

Each country has different rules and regulations regarding how much payment is required and when the bonus must be paid. For businesses expanding and hiring internationally, it is extremely important to understand the labor and employment laws of each country to avoid any legal ramifications and to ensure your employees are being compensated fairly. 

What about the US?

The United States does not require employers to offer a 13th-month bonus for employees. As the United States considers all employment at-will, there is no law that requires employers to give employees any type of payment at the end of the year

When are most 13th-month payments made? 

The timeline for when 13th-month payments are made will differ from country to country. For the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK, this payment is not a mandatory component of the worker's annual salary. However, most employers customarily offer this holiday bonus in the employment contract, to be paid around Christmas time. 

In places like Spain, 13th-month pay is mandatory and employees receive payment in two installments (technically as a 13th and 14th month bonus pay), with the 13th-month bonus being paid in July and the 14th month bonus being paid at the end of the calendar year. 

Similarly, Colombian employers split the 13th-month bonus into two different payments, with half being paid in summer around June and the other half paid in December, around Christmas.

In other countries like Brazil and Mexico, 13th-month payments are required by law, and the employer must pay them out sometime in December, unless stated differently in the employment contract. 

How do you calculate 13th-month pay? 

Although the concept may seem foreign and confusing to US-based businesses, once you understand how to calculate 13th-month pay, it’s fairly easy to run your international payroll.

In most countries, 13th-month pay is equal to one month of an employee’s base pay. It should not include employee allowances, night shift differentials, and other monetary benefits. If an employee has not worked a full calendar year, simply divide their annual base salary by 12 and voila: An employee that earns $48,000 annually would receive a $4,000 bonus during the financial year.

In some countries, some or all of an employee's 13th-month pay is exempt from taxes. In the Philippines, for instance, the amount that is limited from taxes is limited. Before expanding in countries with 13 month pay, it is extremely important to understand the tax laws that govern the country you’re planning to pay employees in. Simplify the process and reduce stress of international hiring and expansion. by opting for Justworks' global EOR services.

Who is entitled to 13th-month pay?

Every salaried employee in countries that offer 13th-month pay are entitled to this bonus, including: 

  • New recruits

  • Paid interns

  • Tenured employees

  • Properly documented foreign employees 

However, there are exceptions to this rule, and some employees may not qualify for 13th-month pay. Some examples of employees that might not receive 13th-month pay include:

  • Managerial staff

  • Civil servants

  • Workers paid on commission

  • Freelancers and independent contractors

Although these employees are not necessarily required to be paid a 13th-month bonus, most companies opt to give workers some sort of bonus at the end of the year anyway. This helps boost employee morale, making your company more appealing to prospective job seekers. 

How can businesses in the US implement 13th-month pay? 

As already mentioned, the United States does not require any type of 13th-month payment. 

However, many companies do offer an end-of-the-year/December bonus, which is usually tied to the employee’s productivity.

The problem with offering only end-of-the-year bonuses is that employees find their value in their company innately tied to their work. This can create a culture of overworking for many US employees. 

How Justworks Can Help 

Justworks’ global EOR services is the solution for small businesses looking to easily hire talent in countries where they don’t already have a legal presence. 

Justworks has direct entities in 11 countries, with the ability to hire in 100+ additional countries upon request through our trusted local partners. You can fearlessly handle HR essentials like payroll, benefits, local compliance, and more.

Learn more about our EOR services, and get started today!


Who is entitled to 13th-month pay? 

In the countries that require or offer customary 13th-month pay, all employees that are considered rank-and-file are entitled to this pay. This includes all salaried employees. 

How do you calculate the 13th-month bonus? 

To calculate an employee’s 13th-month bonus, you would calculate 1/12 of the employee’s annual pay. In other words, you divide their annual base salary by 12. 

How is 13th-month pay calculated example? 

An example of how to calculate 13th-month pay would be:

(monthly salary/12) x (months worked in the calendar year) =13th-month pay.

How is 13th-month pay calculated in the Philippines? 

13th-month pay in the Philippines is calculated by figuring out one month’s salary and paying that salary as a bonus at the end of the year. 

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Dec 19, 20234 minutes

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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