Christmas bonus

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Christmas bonus (also known as Christmas gratification ) is an additional remuneration paid by the employer to his employee , similar to the vacation bonus . The amount of the Christmas bonus, the time of payment and the fact whether Christmas bonus is paid at all are not regulated by law.

The name and time of payment (mostly with the November fee) refer to the Christian Christmas festival . The payment is intended to contribute to the additional expenses incurred on the occasion of Christmas and is made with the aim of retaining the employee's loyalty in the future.

The 13th monthly salary, on the other hand, is the consideration given by the employer for ongoing work performed by the employee. It represents a pro rata consideration for the work that is only paid out at the end of a calendar year. In the course of the year, the employee thus acquires entitlements to payment of the 13th salary that arose proportionately when leaving the employment relationship before the end of the calendar year, unless the parties to the employment contract have agreed otherwise. In terms of the amount, the 13th month's salary is a fully agreed monthly salary; this is not necessarily the case with the Christmas bonus.

Special payments that compensate for regular work may be offset against the minimum wage as part of the wages .



It was already a custom in ancient Rome for slaves and their masters to swap roles and give each other gifts for the Saturnalia that took place in December . There was a medieval form of special Christmas donation in the shoemaker's trade , where the master traditionally gave his journeymen a piece of leather for Christmas, which they could then use to make a pair of shoes. It had been customary in England since the 17th century to give employees a Christmas box the day after Christmas .

In 1952, the ÖTV trade union implemented a collective agreement on a "Christmas donation" for the first time.

In the following years, this happened for many other industries, but by no means for all and also not to the same amount, not even for all companies in the same sectors in a collective bargaining area, but the Christmas bonus was often increased for individual companies through various special payments or company agreements. Often the payout in the full amount expected by the employees was only achieved through operational combat measures. Until at least the end of the 1970s, there was a tendency towards an increase in the amount of Christmas bonuses and an expansion of the proportion of companies and sectors in which it was secured by collective agreements or works agreements.

Workers and employees

The entitlement to Christmas bonus can result from:

The entitlement to a Christmas bonus may be made dependent on the uncontrolled existence of the employment relationship at the time of payment.

An agreement can be made in the employment contract according to which an employee is obliged to repay the Christmas bonus if he leaves the company within a certain period of time after the Christmas bonus has been paid. Collective agreements can also provide for a repayment obligation (in the public sector this was the case according to the previous BAT if the employee left by March 31 of the following year; the TVöD changed the reference date to December 1).

The amount of the Christmas bonus often depends on the industry , company , length of service and business practices. Companies may pay their employees different Christmas bonuses if there are objective reasons for doing so. According to a ruling by the Federal Labor Court, a higher qualification alone is not enough.

In many collective agreements, the amount of the Christmas bonus is graded according to the length of service, e.g.
25% of monthly earnings after 6 months of service,
35% of monthly earnings after 12 months of service,
45% of monthly earnings after 24 months of service,
55% of monthly earnings after 36 months Length of service.

In terms of income tax law , the Christmas bonus is one of the other payments within the meaning of Section 39b (3 ) EStG . The Christmas tax allowance was abolished by the Tax Reform Act 1990 of July 25, 1988.

If the remuneration together with the Christmas bonus does not exceed the monthly contribution assessment limit, the one-time payment is also used in full for the calculation of social insurance contributions ( Section 22, Paragraph 1, Sentence 2, Section 23a of Book IV of the Social Code).

Under certain conditions, voluntarily paid Christmas bonuses can be converted into a tax-privileged travel allowance ( Section 40 (2) sentence 2 EStG). If this subsidy is offset against the Christmas bonus (conversion) and taxed at a flat rate of 15% by the employer, the flat-rate wage tax also triggers exemption from social security contributions.


For civil servants , the Christmas bonus is regulated by federal and state laws.

In recent years, federal and state legislators have significantly reduced, redesigned and in some cases even abolished these services.

Federal officials have not received a Christmas bonus since July 2008. The special payment (Christmas and vacation pay) of 5% of the annual salary that had been granted until then was integrated into the basic salary.


Employees in the pharmacy , banking , confectionery and chemical industries in West Germany receive the highest payments : between 95 and 100% of a month's income. For example, less is paid in retail (62.5%) and in the metal industry (55%).

In some industries, a collectively agreed fixed amount is paid out as a Christmas bonus, for example in coal mining, agriculture, and wholesale and foreign trade. Some collective agreements differentiate between old and new federal states.

In 2018, 55% of all employees in Germany received a Christmas bonus, in 2019 it was 53%. In companies with a collective bargaining agreement it was 77 percent of the employees, in companies without a collective agreement, however, only 42 percent. The average gross amount was 2,632 euros.

The average Christmas bonus by industry for 2019 was (selection):

Euro (gross) Branch
318 Placement and leasing of labor
492 Agriculture, hunting and related activities
510 Guard and security services as well as detective agencies
880 Shipping
1967 Manufacture of metal products
2479 Metal production and processing
3571 Insurance, reinsurance and pension funds (excluding social insurance)
4260 Provision of financial services
4709 Manufacture of pharmaceutical products
4739 Manufacture of chemical products
4923 power supply
5274 Broadcaster

On average, men receive a higher Christmas bonus than women, employees in the western federal states more than in the east and full-time employees more than part-time workers.


In Austria, the Christmas bonus is also known as the Christmas bonus .

Individual evidence

  1. BAG, judgment of October 12, 2005 - 10 AZR 640/04
  2. Thirteenth salary, accessed on February 28, 2020.
  3. BAG, judgment of May 25, 2016, 5 AZR 135/16
  4. BAG press release on the judgment of May 25, 2016, 5 AZR 135/16
  5. Federal Labor Court : Christmas bonuses may be offset against the minimum wage Der Spiegel , May 25, 2016
  6. It's great when there's more to it in the end . ( [accessed October 18, 2018]).
  7. Jürgen Schröder, Berlin: Christmas bonus and 13th monthly income - From alms as a means of discipline against the working people to collectively secured tax payments - Materials for analyzing opposition. December 30, 2014, accessed October 18, 2018 .
  8. ^ Henning Kluge: The principle of equal treatment under labor law. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  9. Martin Hensche: Equal treatment for special payments 2007
  10. BAG, judgment of January 18, 2012 - 10 AZR 667/10
  11. BAG 10 AZR 640/04
  12. Settlement of wage and salary earners - Christmas bonus, accessed on February 26, 2020.
  13. Other remuneration in wage tax law, accessed on February 26, 2020.
  14. BGBl. I p. 1093
  15. BVerfG, decision of April 10, 1997 - 2 BvL 77/92 (on the constitutionality of the abolition of employee and Christmas allowances )
  16. Calculate social security contributions from Christmas bonuses, accessed on February 26, 2020.
  17. BFH, judgment of September 1, 2009 - VI R 41/07
  18. Settlement of wage and salary earners - Christmas bonus, accessed on February 28, 2020.
  19. Special payments - »dbb beamtenbund and tarifunion. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on September 23, 2015 ; accessed on October 18, 2018 .
  20. RP ONLINE: Christmas bonus increases again. (No longer available online.) In: RP ONLINE. November 22, 2010, archived from the original on November 25, 2010 ; accessed on October 18, 2018 .
  21. 55 percent of all employees in Germany receive a Christmas bonus. In: press release. Hans Böckler Foundation, November 13, 2018, accessed on November 26, 2018 .
  22. Everything about the Christmas bonus of the German Trade Union Confederation , November 13, 2018
  23. 53 percent of all employees in Germany receive Christmas bonuses WSI tariff archive, press release from November 13, 2019
  24. How much was your additional Christmas bonus last year? , Socio-Economic Panel at, 2006
  25. Andrea Amerland: How much Christmas bonus do Germans get Springer Verlag, November 13, 2019
  26. Collective Christmas bonus / Germany Federal Statistical Office , accessed on February 25, 2020.
  27. Christmas bonus: who gets how much?, November 27, 2019