All employees should be familiar with the term “Christmas bonus” – although by no means everyone receives the special payment. The Christmas bonus is a special payment from the company to its employees.

It is often paid out with the salary in November. Many employees can also count on the Christmas bonus in 2022.

But a study by the trade union WSI collective bargaining archive shows that in 2020 only 53 percent of employees in Germany received the special payment. In some sectors there is an enormous amount to gain – in others nothing at all. Where is the most Christmas bonus?

The amount of the Christmas bonus – and other special allowances – depends on what has been laid down in the legal basis, for example in the collective agreement. The principle of equal treatment also applies here. Employees must not be treated differently without a factual reason.

According to information from the Federal Statistical Office, the gross Christmas bonus for all employees in Germany in 2021 was an average of 2,677 euros. This represents an increase in the Christmas bonus of 1.9 percent compared to the previous year. In addition, the average Christmas bonus of EUR 2,695 is 5.5 percent higher in the West than in the East. There, pay scale employees receive an average of 2,554 euros. On the other hand, slightly more employees in the east are entitled to a Christmas bonus. In 2021, 88 percent in the east and 87 percent in the west received the special allowance.

Nevertheless, the amount of the Christmas bonus depends heavily on the industry. In 2021, for example, there was an above-average Christmas bonus in the “coking plant and mineral oil processing” sector. There, the employees were paid an average Christmas bonus of 5,651 euros. The Christmas bonus is also above average in the “manufacture of chemical products” area at EUR 5,369 and in the “energy supply” area at EUR 5,369.

According to the announcement, the lowest Christmas bonus is paid to employees in the “placement and leasing of workers” area. An average of 301 euros is paid here. In addition, employees in the “hospitality” sector receive below-average Christmas bonuses. You will receive 861 euros.

In principle, employees are not entitled to a Christmas bonus. Employers may, at their own discretion, decide whether or not to make such special payments. However, a right to a Christmas bonus can arise in the following cases:

Employees at companies that are bound by a collective agreement have the best chance of receiving a Christmas bonus. According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 90 percent of all employees in Germany will receive a Christmas bonus in 2022.

From a tax point of view, the Christmas bonus is not wages, but, like severance pay and vacation pay, is part of the so-called “other remuneration”. Nevertheless, the one-time special payment must be fully taxed. This often leaves less of the Christmas bonus than expected.

The employer first determines the expected annual wages without the Christmas bonus and from this the wage tax due is derived. In the next step, the employer then determines the expected annual wages, including the Christmas bonus. The income tax is also derived from this. The difference between the two tax amounts is then the income tax, which is withheld from the Christmas bonus.

Since it is a one-time payment, the tax rate increases. Therefore, you usually pay more income tax for the special payment than for the regular wage.

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