What does 13th salary mean?

What does 13th salary mean?

By Published On: 3. October 2023


There you sit, rummaging through documents, and you come across the term "13th salary." You scratch your head and ask yourself, "What does that even mean?" You know it from somewhere, right? Let me help you explain this terminology. The 13th salary is an additional payment you receive from your employer on top of your regular earnings. Usually, this salary is paid at the end of the year. It is a voluntary benefit from the employer, so there is no entitlement to it. But the feeling of getting an extra salary is fantastic, right? So, whether you have a generous boss or possibly even Negotiation scope in your contract, we'll go into all the details in a moment so you understand everything about the 13th salary. Be curious!

What is actually the 13th salary?

The frequently thrown term in the business world here in Germany, the 13th salary, leads to a lot of confusion and curiosity. You may ask yourself, "How do I get 13 salaries in one year with only 12 months?". Well, the name itself can be misleading, as the 13th salary is not really an additional "salary". Let's make this more understandable, true to the principle of "take it easy".

The importance of the 13th salary

Most employees in Germany receive 12 salaries per year, one for each month, right? But what if you got extra money? That's exactly what the 13th salary is. It's a kind of bonus that your employer can provide in addition to your regular monthly salary. It is important to note that it is not required by law to pay a 13th salary and it is completely up to the employer whether they want to pay it or not.

This additional salary is usually paid at the end of the year and is often used to help employees cover the extra expenses of the holidays. The 13th salary is usually a full month's pay, but may be less depending on general agreements between employer and employee.

Difference between 13th salary and Christmas bonus

Now, if you understood the concept of 13th pay, you might wonder if it's the same as a Christmas bonus or a vacation bonus? Not quite. While Christmas or vacation pay is also a type of bonus, it differs from 13th salary in the way it is calculated.

The Christmas bonus is not based on a specific month, but is a fixed amount determined by your employer. This can be a certain percentage of your monthly salary or a sum agreed in your employment contract. It also depends on the generosity and financial situation of your employer.

The 13th salary and the Christmas bonus are two different benefits and cannot be considered one and the same. They are calculated and paid in different ways. However, both can help ease the financial burden of the holidays and give employees a little extra money for the new year.

So, the next time you hear the term '13th salary', know exactly what it means and what you can expect. And remember, it's a nice gesture from your employer and not a legal right! But if you get it, enjoy it and treat yourself!

How do you calculate the 13th salary?

Unlike other aspects of your working life, such as working hours, tasks and compensation, the calculation of the 13th salary is something special. It is an extra that the employer usually distributes at the end of the year. However, the question remains: who determines how this extra salary is calculated? And what happens if you leave the company during the year? Before we get into the details, it's essential to understand that there are no legal requirements for calculating the 13th salary. Rather, it is an agreement between you and your employer.

The basic principles of calculation of the 13th salary

The calculation of the 13th salary is usually based on your annual base salary. For example, if you have an annual salary of €60,000, the calculation of the 13th salary would be quite simple: €60,000 / 13 = about €4,615. That sounds pretty simple, right? Yes, it is, but other factors can be included. For example, bonuses, commissions or supplements for overtime can also be included in the calculation if this is specified in your employment contract. The employer can also decide that the 13th salary is staggered according to your length of service. In short, nothing is set in stone and depends heavily on the company's internal policies.

Possible factors influencing the calculation of the 13th salary

But what happens if you haven't been with the company all year? How might that affect your 13th salary? In this case, it's common for your 13th salary to be prorated. So if you were only with the company for 6 months, you would receive roughly half of the full 13th salary (though again, this varies from company to company).

Adjustments could also be made in the event of illness or parental leave. Here it is important to check what is stated in your employment contract. Some contracts may stipulate that one-twelfth of the additional salary is deducted for each month of absence.

In addition to the above factors, special circumstances such as the Covid 19 pandemic may also affect the amount of the 13th salary to compensate for financial shortfalls of the company.

The calculation of the 13th salary is therefore not a mystery, it only requires an understanding of the company guidelines and, if necessary, a thorough reading of your employment contract. If you still have questions about 13th salary, don't hesitate to contact your employer or Human Resources. They are there to help you clarify this and other salary issues.

When is the 13th salary paid?

Before we address this question, it is important to mention that the 13th salary, although popular at the end of a working year, is not guaranteed by default. As discussed earlier, the payment of the 13th salary depends on the employer and the specific employment contract you signed. There is no general rule for it, as it can vary from company to company and even from employee to employee within the same company. Therefore, it is important to understand the employment contract well and clarify any ambiguities with the employer. But assuming you are entitled to the 13th salary, when could you expect it to be paid?

Regular payment model of the 13th salary

The 13th salary is usually paid at the end of the year. However, the exact timing may depend on various factors. Your employer might decide to pay the 13th salary in parts during the year. For example, it could be added to the regular monthly salary as a kind of bonus, or it could be paid in two semi-annual installments, mid-year and at the end of the year. It is also common to pay the 13th salary in full in November or December, in time for Christmas spending.

Influence of working hours and individual agreements

The payment of the 13th salary can also be influenced by the working hours. For example, if you did not work the entire year, the 13th salary could be calculated pro rata based on the actual months worked. Likewise, if you left the company during the year, the payment of the 13th salary could be affected. In this case, the 13th salary could often be paid pro rata for the months worked.

Individual agreements can also influence the payment of the 13th salary. You may have agreed with your employer that the 13th salary will be paid at a certain time of the year that is advantageous for you. For example, you might need it at the beginning of the year to cover a major expense, or you might need it in the middle of the year to fund your vacation.

To summarize, there is no set rule for when exactly the 13th salary is paid. It depends on many factors, including the employer's policy, individual employment contract and working hours. It is therefore important to clearly understand when and how the 13th salary is paid, and to clarify any ambiguities with the employer.

How can you make the most of your 13th salary?

So you've made it to the end of the year and have your 13th paycheck in your hands. Congratulations! Now you're asking yourself the question "How can I best use this extra money?". There are many ways you can use this money to improve your financial life or just to reward yourself. Which method is right for you depends entirely on your financial situation and life goals. Here are a few ideas that might help you make good choices.

Payment of debts

If you have debt, this extra money could be a great way to pay it off. Maybe it's credit card debt, a car loan, a mortgage or even student loans. Remember, debt can be a big obstacle to your financial security. The sooner you get rid of it, the sooner you can put the money you spend on interest into your savings account. It can be very satisfying to see your debt pile shrink and the feeling of financial liberation is priceless.

Invest in a pension insurance

Another option is to invest your 13th salary in a retirement plan. It's never too early to start thinking about retirement. And the earlier you start, the more you can benefit later. It goes without saying that retirement is a time in life when income is often reduced, and it's important to take steps early to be financially prepared. Your 13th salary can be a welcome addition to your retirement fund and help you maintain a comfortable lifestyle when the time comes.

Improve quality of life

There are many ways your 13th salary can directly benefit your Quality of life can improve. Maybe you've had your eye on a new piece of furniture for a while, or there's a home improvement project you'd like to tackle. You could use the extra money to finally make those things happen that you've been wanting for a long time. You work hard and deserve to reward yourself once in a while. It's important to treat yourself to the occasional luxury, and the 13th salary can give you the perfect opportunity to do so.

Save and invest

Your 13th salary also provides a great opportunity to save and invest. Have you thought about investing in stocks, bonds or other investment products to make your money work for you? Or maybe you want to build a nest egg for unplanned expenses? Whether you're planning a major purchase, want to buy your own home someday, or just want to be prepared for the future, it always makes sense to put money aside. And your 13th salary can help you do just that!

In the end, the decision is yours. But no matter what you decide, always remember that it makes sense to spend and invest your money wisely to secure your financial future.

Difference between 13th salary and Christmas bonus

Let's discuss the differences between the 13th salary and the Christmas bonus in Germany. Both are additional benefits you can receive as an employee, but there are important differences that are often not well understood. These can vary depending on the employer, employment contract and specific conditions.

What exactly is the 13th salary?

As you may already know, 13th salary is an additional financial benefit that some employees receive above their regular salary. However, this payment is not mandatory and may depend on how long you have worked during the year and other factors. Unlike vacation pay, the 13th salary is not necessarily tied to a specific time of the year.

However, it is common for it to be paid at the end of the year, but this need not always be the case. In general, you should think of the 13th salary as a bonus that your employer gives you for various reasons, e.g. in recognition of your good work or simply as additional support.

And what about the Christmas bonus?

On the other hand, the Christmas bonus is often associated with the end of the year and the holidays. It is usually a payment that is in addition to your regular salary and is paid in December or just before. The purpose of this payment is to help you cover the extra expenses that may occur during the Christmas season, such as gifts, travel, or special meals.

In return for the 13th salary, the Christmas bonus is often linked to certain conditions. In some cases, for example, you may only be entitled to a Christmas bonus if you stay with the company until a certain point in the year. It is also important to note that the Christmas bonus is sometimes calculated as a percentage of your salary and can therefore vary depending on your income.

In summary, the 13th salary and the Christmas bonus are two different types of additional benefits that you can receive as an employee. Both have their own eligibility and conditions, which can depend heavily on what you have agreed with your employer. It is always a good idea to read your employment contract carefully and consult your employer or a trusted source if you have any questions.

Legal aspects of your 13th salary

Although the 13th salary is not a legal entitlement, it is important for you to understand the legal aspects related to it. This additional salary is more of a bonus granted at the discretion of your employer and is not based on legal requirements. However, there are some legal issues that may arise in connection with your 13th salary. These may relate to the payment, calculation or even taxation of your 13th salary.

The payment of your 13th salary

The payment of your 13th salary is usually specified in your employment contract. It may be paid at the end of the year or possibly before the holidays. If you leave the company during the year or have not worked the whole year, your 13th salary may be paid on a pro rata basis.

It is important for you to understand that in the event of premature termination of employment or interruptions, such as parental leave, your entitlement to the 13th salary may be reduced proportionately. Your specific entitlement and how your 13th salary is calculated can be found in your individual employment contract.

The taxation of your 13th salary

The taxation of your 13th salary is another aspect you should consider. In Germany, your 13th salary is classified as "other remuneration" and is therefore subject to income tax. However, this additional payment may be taxed at a lower rate if it is paid separately from your regular salary.

In addition to income tax, social security contributions may also be due. These include contributions to unemployment, pension, health and long-term care insurance. These contributions are usually deducted directly from your salary.

If you have questions about the taxation of your 13th salary, it is always advisable to consult a tax advisor or the tax authorities. They can provide you with information about your individual tax obligations and options.

We understand that the topic of 13th salary can be complex and there are many factors to consider. It's definitely worth knowing and understanding the legal aspects to make sure everything is going by the book. And most importantly, don't forget to review your employment contract and ask questions if anything is unclear. That way, you can fully enjoy your potential bonus without any unpleasant surprises. Because even though the 13th salary isn't a legal right, it's a part of your income that needs to be properly understood and managed.

Tax treatment of your 13th salary

You've probably heard and read a lot about the 13th salary. How it's calculated, how you can spend or invest it, and that it's not the same as a Christmas bonus. But have you ever wondered how your 13th salary is treated for tax purposes? If not, stay tuned, because that's exactly what we're about to clarify.

This is how the taxation of your 13th salary works

Before you think that your 13th salary is a gift from heaven and you can take full advantage of it, I would like to remind you that unfortunately this is not the case. Yes, you heard me right - taxes are due on your 13th salary too!

Normally, your 13th salary is treated as a so-called miscellaneous payment. It is not part of your regular salary, but a kind of special payment that is paid in addition to your actual salary during the year. It is taxed according to the one-fifth rule. A hypothetical fifth of the additional income is added to your regular annual income and taxed. The tax rate is then applied to the entire additional income to reduce the tax burden.

This probably sounds quite complicated. But basically, it's designed to give you some relief on your tax burden. Therefore, it may make sense to contact a tax advisor. He or she can help you to optimize your tax situation.

Effects on social security contributions

In addition to taxes, your 13th salary is also subject to social security contributions.

Social security contributions are usually proportional to your income. When your 13th salary is paid, your income for that month increases and so do your social security contributions. This could include contributions to health, nursing care, pension and unemployment insurance.

In conclusion, your 13th salary is a great addition to your regular income. However, there are also tax and social security aspects associated with it. Therefore, it's a good idea to get well informed and, if necessary, seek professional advice to make sure you get the most out of your 13th salary and don't get unpleasant surprises.

Curiosities around the 13th salary

As the title suggests, in this section we take a very special look at the 13th salary. And since curiosities can sometimes be really surprising and revealing, we don't want to waste any time and get right to it.

Traditions and belief in the 13th salary

In Germany, there is no shortage of traditions and local customs. And it's amazing, but the idea of the 13th salary has found its place in some of these traditions. In fact, there are employers who firmly believe that the 13th salary brings good luck and provides some kind of protection. These firm beliefs often come from ancient traditions and are deeply embedded in the company culture. There are even companies, especially in smaller towns or villages, that hold a small ceremony to announce and pay the 13th salary as part of their annual traditions.

In terms of luck, many employees believe that the 13th salary can avert disaster, especially in terms of financial difficulties. While this logically has nothing to do with actual financial facts, it is an interesting aspect of how deeply the 13th salary has penetrated tradition and culture.

The curse of the 13th salary? Myth or reality?

It may sound crazy, but there are actually people out there who believe in something like a "13th paycheck curse." Yes, you heard that right. It is a kind of superstition that actually exists and is believed by some people. The idea is that because the 13th salary is basically "unearned" and "extra," it causes you to spend more money and get into debt. Of course, this is total nonsense and has no foundation in reality.

The real "curse" is probably more about seeing the 13th salary as extra money and therefore spending it frivolously instead of investing or saving it wisely. But the idea that this kind of salary is cursed is really far from reality.

To conclude this section, it remains to say that the 13th salary, although not a legal right, is a really interesting aspect of our work culture and economy. And as you can see from these curious stories, it also has a cultural significance that goes beyond the merely financial. Whether or not you believe in the luck or "curse" of the 13th paycheck, it's a phenomenon that definitely provides the material for some interesting conversations. So, get ready for the next time the topic comes up in your office!

Your 13th salary in international comparison

Now that you know the details about how the 13th salary works in Germany, you may be wondering how it compares to international practice? How do other countries handle this kind of extra pay? Should you look elsewhere in the world to find better best practices? It's worth exploring and seeing how other cultures and economies handle this issue.

Your 13th salary in South and Central American countries

In many South and Central American countries, the 13th salary is a legally required element of compensation. In Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and other countries, it is usually the case that you receive an additional amount at the end of the year, equivalent to one month's salary. However, there are differences in detail. In some countries, the 13th salary is also paid in two parts, once in the middle of the year and once at the end of the year.

In this context, it is also culturally anchored and often seen as money for vacation trips and Christmas gifts. But beware: While the 13th salary is a safe bet in economically stable countries, severe economic crises or high inflation rates can significantly affect the purchasing power of this additional payment in some countries.

Your 13th salary in European and Asian countries

There is also a similar practice in some other European countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. However, there are differences in handling here as well. In Italy, for example, the 13th salary is paid in time for the vacation season, whereas in Portugal it is paid in two installments. One part is paid at vacation time and the other at Christmas.

In many Asian countries, however, especially China and Japan, the concept of a 13th salary is not common. Pay systems in these countries tend to be based on a fixed salary, with occasional bonuses depending on performance and business results.

Ultimately, how the 13th salary is handled depends largely on the cultural and economic circumstances of a country. In some countries it is taken for granted, in others it is a foreign concept. As an employee or employer, it can be worthwhile to be aware of these differences and to reconsider or adjust one's own practice if necessary. Because regardless of whether the 13th salary is a Christmas present, a vacation bonus or a reward for performance in the past year - the important thing is that it is regulated fairly and transparently and serves its purpose.

What happens to your 13th salary if you quit?

In this section of the article, we will address a topic that may be of burning interest to you as an employee: What happens to your 13th salary if you are laid off? Certainly, a dismissal is not something you like to think about, but sometimes it is unavoidable. In such situations, you may wonder what will happen to the "bonus" at the end of the year. Will it still be paid in full or will there be a pro-rated payment? It's an important question and we're here to answer it.

The 13th salary in case of termination within the year

If you resigned or were terminated during the year, you're probably wondering what happens to your 13th salary. The answer to this may vary, as it depends heavily on the clauses in your employment contract.

In most cases, however, the 13th salary is paid on a pro-rata basis, based on the number of months you worked at the company. This means that if you quit after six months, for example, you will receive half of the 13th salary you would have received if you had worked the entire year. However, it is important to clarify this with your employer or the HR department and to check your employment contract again, as there is no universal rule on this.

Dealing with a termination at the end of the year

It gets a little more complicated if you resign or are terminated at the end of the year. You're probably wondering if you're still entitled to the full 13th salary. Well, that depends on a few factors.

Some companies pay the 13th salary in full even in this case, especially if the Cancellation takes effect at the end of the year. Others, however, pay it out pro rata for the months worked, similar to termination during the year.

The date on which the 13th salary is normally paid can also play a role. For example, if the salary is paid out at the beginning of December and you don't give notice until the end of December, you may be lucky and receive the full amount. Nevertheless, it is advisable to clarify these details in advance with your employer or the HR department.

In summary: the 13th salary is a great kind of bonus that is common in Germany. But when it comes to terminations, it gets a bit more complicated. Therefore, it is important to always read the employment contract carefully and understand the terms. If you are unsure, don't hesitate to ask questions or even consult a lawyer. After all, it's your money and you have the right to know what happens to it in case of termination!

Comparison: 13th salary and other bonuses

Now that we've talked a lot about the 13th salary, during our adventure into the world of additional income, it's time to look at other types of bonus payments. In fact, there are a variety of additional benefits that employers can offer, and each of them has its own nuances and peculiarities to consider. So let's delve into a comparison between the 13th salary and other bonus payments.

How is the 13th salary different from a raise?

A salary increase, unlike a 13th salary, is a permanent increase in your base salary. This means that your monthly income will increase and this could also affect future salary increases, bonuses or pension entitlements. In comparison, the 13th salary is more of a one-time payment that is not necessarily guaranteed every year.

Whether a raise or a 13th salary is more beneficial depends on your personal circumstances and goals. For example, if you plan to make long-term financial commitments or build up your savings, a raise might be better. However, if you need a larger sum of money for a one-time expense, such as a vacation, the 13th salary might be more beneficial.

Performance-related bonuses vs. 13th salary

Performance-based bonuses can be an important source of additional income, but they are very different from 13th salaries. This is because these bonuses depend on your personal performance or the overall performance of the company, whereas the 13th salary is usually paid regardless of your individual performance.

Performance-based bonuses can be a powerful incentive to increase your performance. They can help you earn a higher income if you work hard and achieve good results. However, there's always a risk that you won't receive the bonus if you or your company don't meet the goals you set. The 13th salary, on the other hand, is usually guaranteed, provided your employment contract provides for it.

We hope this comparison has given you a better idea of the differences and benefits of the various types of bonuses. Whether you're considering the 13th salary, a raise, or performance-based bonuses, open communication with your employer and a good understanding of your employment contract are key to getting the most out of your income.

Tips: How to invest your 13th salary optimally

Greetings! I assume you're probably drawing your 13th salary and aren't quite sure what to do with it? Don't worry, buddy. You're not the only one with this problem. In fact, it's a common question that many people ask themselves when they get their hands on that extra pocket of cash. Well, let's see how we can use this money in the most effective and productive way.

Investing on the right investment platform

Have you ever thought about investing? Yes, you read that right. Investments are actually a great way to grow your money. And no, you don't have to be a financial genius to do it. Okay, but where can you start? You're probably wondering if it's not complicated and how you can make sure you don't lose your hard-earned 13th salary.

There are several investment platforms that are quite friendly for beginners. You could invest in stocks or funds, for example. There are also savings plans that are quite safe and can guarantee you a stable return. Of course, there are always risks when you invest, so it's important that you research thoroughly and seek professional advice if possible. Remember, never invest money that you cannot afford to lose.

The beneficial savings pot: An Emergency Fund

What if investing isn't your thing? Do you have an emergency fund or, as some call it, an emergency fund? No? Well, that could prove to be one of your best financial tools. An emergency fund is money you set aside for a "just-in-case" event. It's a safety reserve for unexpected situations, such as sudden accidents, repairs or unexpected expenses. Generally, you should have about three to six months of your expenses as an emergency fund.

But let's be honest. It sounds very easy to keep in mind that you should set aside money for emergencies, but in practice it's rather difficult. When you get that 13th salary, you can use it to build or supplement your emergency reserve. This "extra" amount can make a big difference and help you reach that goal more easily. In addition, a well-padded emergency fund gives you a sense of financial security and the knowledge that you are prepared for anything.

As a final word, before we stop chatting - don't be too spontaneous with your 13th salary. This is your hard-earned money and you should value it. Think carefully about how you want to use it and consider different options. You don't have to spend it all at once. It is your money and you should have control over it. Apply the tips that suit you best and make the most of it!

Share this post

About the Author: Sven Emmrich

Sven Emmrich avatar
Sven is a business graduate, DEKRA-certified coach and passionate entrepreneur. As CEO of Karrierehelden, he has been writing for many years on all career topics such as job applications and job changes, money and salary negotiations, leadership skills and management issues, psychology and personality development, communication and conflict management, self-confidence and entrepreneurship, and the line between work and private life with work-life balance... or much more work-life integration. Sven has coached over 1,000 academics, professionals and executives with his team and is happy to help you too.
Share post

latest video

news via inbox

Nulla turp dis cursus. Integer liberos euismod pretium faucibua