It is almost that time of year when employers in Costa Rica have to pay employees their annual aguinaldo or end-of-the-year bonus. Employers must pay an aguinaldo if an employee has worked from December 1 through November 30, or an amount proportionate to the time worked, if less than a year. The amount is usually the equivalent of one month’s salary. If the worker makes different amounts each month then you just add up the total and divide by 12 to see what has to be paid. By law an aguinaldo has to be paid between the first and 20th of December. Do not forget that live in employees receive an additional 50 percent year-end bonus. Employers who don’t pay the aguinaldo will have to pay a fine which is the equivalent 20 times the base salary according to the Article 564 of the Labor Code or Código de Trabajo. There is no way an employer can avoid paying this benefit.
Retirees who hire Costa Ricans should should adhere strictly to the country’s labor laws to avoid huge problems.
The tradition of paying aguinaldos exists in other Spanish-speaking countries but does not always work the same way as in Costa Rica.
In Mexico, for example, the federal law establishes that an aguinaldo should be the equivalent to 15 days of base salary and to be paid before the 20th of every December. Workers who have not worked the whole year are also entitled to an aguinaldo based proportionately on the time they have worked.
In Argentina the labor law (La Ley de Contrato de Trabajo) establishes an annual complimentary salary to be paid in two payments, one on the 30th of June and the other on the 31st of December.
In Colombia as in Argentina part of the the aguinaldo must be paid at the end of the first half of the year and at the end of the year.
In Uruguay the payment of the aguinaldo works like it does in Argentina. This custom is perhaps due to the fact that they are neighboring countries.
In Panama the work code (el Código de Trabajo) gives both public and private workers a 13th month payment in two installments on the 15th of April and the 15th of December.
In Boliva The General Work Law or la Ley General de Trabajo stipulates that the aguinaldo must be paid to anyone who has worked for more than three months at a single job.
In some Spanish-speaking countries an aguinaldo is not synonymous with a monetary bonus. For instance, in Venezuela el aguinaldo is a type of Christmas music. In Spain an aguinaldo consists of children going from house to house playing a type of music with instruments like a tambourine. Instead of asking for money the ask for candy and pastries. This custom is similar to what children do at Halloween.
Unfortunatley, since I am my own boss I only receive an agui-nada at the end of the year. Nada means nothing ion Spanish.