El Aguinaldo, the Christmas Bonus in Mexico

El Aguinaldo, the Christmas bonus, is a benefit to which workers are entitled to receive annually, a benefit provided as a support from the employer to the worker for holiday expenses we all experience in December. There are different versions of the origin of the word aguinaldo. The two most common are from “eguinad,” the term with which the Celts called the end of the year gift, but the word is also considered to be derived from the Latin expression “noc in anno,” which means “in this year.” Although there are also many ancient cultures where gifts were given due to the belief that the best omens to start the year were attracted with generous gifts. In Mexico, “the bonus” was born in 1970 with the passage of the Federal Labor Law. In Article 87, it mentions, “Workers will have the right to an annual bonus that must be paid before December 20 equivalent to fifteen days of salary, at least.” Even workers who have not worked the full year are entitled to receive the amount proportional to what they worked. Even if they only work half days, the formula contemplates each day worked as a full day of labor.

The formula to calculate the correct amount for the bonus is:

  • Divide the bonus days to which the employee is entitled (15) by the days of the year (365).
  • Multiply the result by the employee’s days worked during the calendar year.
  • Multiply this result by the worker’s daily salary.
  • The result is the Christmas bonus.


José, a gardener, worked 200 days in 2020 and has a daily salary of 300 pesos.

José’s employer, Mr. Santiago, wants to calculate his bonus, so he performs the following calculation:

  • 15 vacation days divided by 365 calendar days equals 0.04109 units.
  • 0.04109 units multiplied by 200 days equals 8.218 units.
  • 8.218 units multiplied by 300 pesos equals 2,465.40.

Therefore, Mr. Santiago will give José the amount of 2,465.40 pesos as a bonus. Many people have asked if this increases by the number of years an employee has worked. The answer is that in a labor relationship without a contract stipulation for additional days, 15 days complies with the law. However, while you are not allowed to give less, it is fine if you choose to give more!

Angel Marin Diaz has 21 years of experience as President and CEO of Inmtec Legal Services, one of the largest firms in Mexico; info@inmtec.net, 415 121 9005

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