For anyone who has employees in Costa Rica it is very important to understand the Aguinaldo, also known as the Christmas Bonus.

What is the Aguinaldo?

It is an additional wage that must be paid by all employers within the first 20 days of December of each year to workers in the private sector, whatever their position is.

How much Aguinaldo must be paid?

If the worker has worked the whole year, he must receive a complete average monthly salary. The average is obtained by adding all the ordinary and overtime wages earned during the 12 months of the (December of prior year through November) divided by 12.

The calculation of the Aguinaldo must include ordinary wage, overtime and the value of any other compensation paid to the worker.

On what date should the Aguinaldo be paid?

It must be paid before the 20th of December.

What happens if the employee only works for part of a year?

The average is obtained by adding all the ordinary and overtime wages earned and dividing by 12. All workers that have worked for a determined period of time or for a determined project as long as they have worked more than one month.

What happens if the employer doesn’t pay the Aguinaldo?

It is considered as an undue retention of wages and a serious violation by the employer. The employer is liable for fines for every worker involved.

Can the worker lose his right to an Aguinaldo?

No, he cannot. As long as a labor contract is in effect the right to an Aguinaldo cannot be lost.  The employer’s liability does end if six months pass after the end of the labor contract and the worker does not claim the right to an Aguinaldo.

How is the Aguinaldo calculated if the worker was incapacitated by illness?

A worker that is incapacitated by illness during the year does not receive Aguinaldo for the incapacitation period, because he receives a disability payment. This does not apply to women on maternity leave. The time of the maternity leave is included in the calculation of the Aguinaldo.