Are Christmas and year-end bonuses a given in Europe?

Christmas bonus, still in Litas
DELFI / Audrius Solominas

The end of the year brings with it the year’s most beautiful holidays and the opportunity for businesses to review their performance in 2017. Financial statements are getting closer and managers assess performance based on defined plans, while making an effort to express their thanks for the effort shown by their employees. Every company has its own tried-and-true practices and ways to reward those who work for them. Paylab decided to examine financial benefits in detail.

In general, financial benefits are in no way a given. Most employees can only dream about financial benefits at the end of the year. Receiving a bit of extra cash in the form of financial bonuses outside the scope of an agreed basic salary is not a common practice in businesses. Employers more often choose other forms of non-financial benefits, such as Christmas dinners and parties, St Nicholas Day celebrations for employees’ children, small gifts or gift vouchers. Compare the salary conditions in your current job with others.

Christmas bonuses are the most generous in Central Europe

Christmas bonuses are especially welcome before Christmas shopping. These bonuses are a mandatory salary component agreed upon in an employment contract. Employers use to show workers appreciation and is usually ment as a gift. A majority are defined as a specific percentage of the basic salary and these extra funds are paid out with the salary for December before Christmas itself.

Christmas bonuses are among the sample group most widespread in Croatia, where up to 44 per cent of employees receive such a bonus, but the actual amount of the bonus itself is not so high. Typically, the bonus is around 23 per cent of a Croat’s basic salary, which is a gross bonus of around €185 on average. Christmas bonuses are also widespread in Slovenia, with a third of employees receiving one; the amount is a bit higher than in Croatia at roughly 31 per cent of the basic salary (€422 on average). In the Balkans, Christmas bonuses are a bit less common in Bosnia and Herzegovina (15 per cent) and Serbia at 8 per cent, but the percentages are much higher than in Croatia or Slovenia. In Bosnia, the Christmas bonus is 78 per cent of the basic salary (€625) while in Serbia it is up to 86 per cent of the basic salary (€481).

In Central Europe, Christmas bonuses are a bit less common, but the amount of the bonus itself is much more generous. People can certainly look forward to a bigger shopping bill when they receive a gross bonus of €720 to €850 on average (except Poland where the bonus is not so generous). 19 per cent of employees receive this bonus in Poland, 17 per cent in Slovakia, followed by 14 per cent in the Czech Republic and 13 per cent of employees in Hungary. Hungarians receive the most generous bonus from all countries at up to 91 per cent of their basic salary.

In the Baltic states, 10 to 13 per cent of employees receive a Christmas bonus, while the amount does not exceed a fifth of their basic salary, i.e. a gross bonus of €173 to €210. In the Nordic countries, a Christmas bonus is the least common in Finland, with only 4 per cent of employees receiving one. The bonus itself typically does not exceed 21 per cent of a Fin’s salary.

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