By Chinyere Okoroafor
A 13th month salary is a payment that an employer pays to employees according to different terms of law or contract of employment.
The payment, which usually takes place around December, is traditionally called Christmas bonus and the salary may be equivalent to one full month salary.
However, the origin of 13th month payment or salary is believed to come from the fact that some months have five weeks instead of four.
Meanwhile, the 13th-month salary is not new. It is believed to have been in practice in Italy as far back as the 1930s and it is called Tredicesima mensilit.
The value of the 13th month payment is to enhance better staff performance and support them during the festive periods. It is to ensure that employees have money to spend during the end of year.
The countries where 13th month salary is mandated by law are Brazil, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Philippines.
The payment is usually given to (permanent) employees, mainly in December. There is also an option to give in two installments, first in May and then November.While in countries like in Armenia and Nepal, the 13th month payment is not mandated by law but it is usually paid to employees at the same time with December month salary before the New Year holidays.
Countries in Europe like Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Turkey and Austria have no unitary regulation, and the thirteenth salary is mostly regulated in collective agreement.
It is worthy to note that United Kingdom does not recognize the 13th-month pay. It is also alleged that some organizations in the USA pay employees 13th month pay, but it is not mandatory.
In Singapore, it is called the Annual Wage Supplement (AWS) and it is mandated by law.
Throughout Latin America, the primary reason why the 13th payment is sanctioned by law is to support workers with their children school fee and at the same time put more money in their pocket during the yuletide season. This is why it is paid in two equal installments, firstly at the beginning of school season and latest on the 24th of December in a calendar year.
Meanwhile in Nigeria, the 13th-month salary or payment is not statutory. But it is alleged that some organisations in Nigeria practise it based on management approval, collective bargaining or by a contract of employment between employers and their employees.
Under the Concurrent List, states in Nigeria are given some power to implement measures that could improve their workers’ well-being.
For example, Lagos state government extended the period of maternity leave to six months for women and approved paternity leave for male officers under the Lagos State civil service.
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Also, Osun State during ex-governor Ogbeni Aregbesola administration approved 13th-month pay for the Osun state civil servants. But such state law does not make it mandatory for other states or corporate bodies to do same.
Some workers have wondered if 13th monthly salary is a bonus. However, if you are paid on a monthly basis, the 13th month salary (bonus) is a compulsory.
Here are the reasons why workers desire to be paid the 13th month salary:
*Workers are usually underpaid on most months except February.
*We have four weeks in a month and basically workers only get paid for 28 days in a month.
*In fact, workers are underpaid in every other month other than February. January (3days), March (3days), April (2days), May (3days), June (2days), July (2days), August (3days), September (2days), October (3days), November (2days), and December (3days).
*The above number of days when summed up is 29 days. This means that in reality, the 13th month salary idea is your pay. And it is not really a bonus. So if you are going to receive a 13th month salary, it is important to note that it is part of your salary.