Aguinaldo (Christmas bonus) in Mexico: A Legal Tradition with Historical Roots

In Mexico, the holiday season is marked not only by lights, posadas, and festivities but also by a tradition deeply embedded in labor legislation: the Christmas bonus or “aguinaldo.” For our foreign colleagues working in this beautiful country, understanding this annual benefit is essential, as it is an integral part of Mexican culture and laws.

The law establishes…

Based on the provisions of the Federal Labor Law of Mexico, the following is indicated:

Article 87

Workers are entitled to an annual Aguinaldo, payable before the twentieth of December, equivalent to at least fifteen days of salary.

Those who have not completed a year of service, regardless of whether they are working on the bonus payment date, have the right to receive a proportional part based on the time worked.

A Bit of History

The term “aguinaldo” has its roots in ancient Rome, where “strenae,” an exchange of gifts to usher in good omens for the New Year, took place. The word “aguinaldo” is related to the Celtic practice of “eguinad,” a year-end gift symbolizing wishes for good luck. In Mexico, this ancient custom has evolved into the tradition of gifting packages with fruits and traditional foods during the holidays.

In contemporary Mexico, the Aguinaldo has become an essential employment benefit. As per Article 87 of the Federal Labor Law, workers are entitled to an annual bonus equivalent to fifteen days of salary, payable before December 20. Even those who have not completed a year of service have the right to a proportional amount.

A Social Right since 1970

The tradition of the Aguinaldo was formally incorporated into Mexican legislation in 1970 with the Federal Labor Law. This law, driven by the desire to ensure fundamental labor rights, established the Aguinaldo as a mandatory benefit for all salaried workers. It is important to note that this social right is grounded in the 1917 Constitution, the world’s first to establish social guarantees.

The Aguinaldo is not merely economic compensation; it is a gift that transcends its monetary value. Although many nations have adopted this practice, its origin lies in the Philippines, where it was instituted in 1975 as an extra month’s salary to allow families to celebrate Christmas with joy and abundance.

How is the Aguinaldo Calculated in Mexico?

The basis for calculating the Aguinaldo in Mexico is the ordinary daily wage, not the “integrated” salary that includes benefits. This calculation considers a minimum of 15 days of salary for each year worked. Understanding this distinction is crucial to avoid misunderstandings during the settlement of this benefit.

The Aguinaldo in the International Context

While the Aguinaldo is a common practice in countries like Argentina, Puerto Rico, Chile, Nicaragua, Colombia, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, and many others, each nation has its own laws and methods of calculating this benefit. In China, for example, it is equivalent to one month’s salary and is given during the Chinese New Year.

In Mexico, the Aguinaldo is more than a legal obligation; it is a cultural expression rooted in generosity and solidarity. For our foreign colleagues working in the country, understanding this tradition not only strengthens integration into the workplace but also allows them to immerse themselves in the richness of Mexican culture during the holidays. Happy Aguinaldo and happy holidays!

“The Aguinaldo is like a bridge that connects hard work with well-deserved celebration.”

Roger Mariano

Roger Mariano

Deputy General Manager, Manager, Consultant, Professor, lecturer, with over 20 years of experience in key roles in the Human Resources field, often serving as a change agent in both National and Multinational Companies. I aim to support my national and international colleagues, as well as anyone interested in learning about my experience in human resources management in Mexico.

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