Mexico Essentials, Working

The Christmas Aguinaldo in Mexico

Workers in Mexico look forward to 'el Aguinaldo' – their annual Christmas bonus

500 Peso Banknote featuring Benito Juarez

When the festive-season holiday approaches, workers in Mexico look forward to their annual Christmas bonus, known as el Aguinaldo.

Mexican labor law stipulates that all formally-employed people must receive an Aguinaldo, equivalent to at least 15 days of wages, and it must be paid before December 20. This is in addition to any regular pay or other benefits that the employer offers.  In practice, many of the big companies in Mexico pay 30 days — effectively paying employees 13 months of salary per year — and some employers split this into two payments: one half paid at Christmas and the other half in the summer.

If you hire any domestic staff informally you are not legally-bound to pay this, but it’s important to pay them an Aguinaldo in December, nonetheless.  This may include maids, caretakers, care-givers, gardeners, pool maintenance people, etc.  Some people pay domestic staff two weeks, although a full month’s pay is more appropriate. The payment of an Aguinaldo to domestic staff is a long-established tradition in Mexican culture and getting into the routine of making this annual contribution is an important part of adopting local Mexican customs.

If you forgot to tip your postman in November, Christmas is a good time to make amends and, for those who receive a lot of post through the year, some will pay their postman an additional tip at Christmastime.

Other people to consider tipping at Christmas include the folks who collect your household waste and recycling, the home gas delivery people, and the water bottle delivery people.

If you are traveling this Christmas season and staying at a hotel, don’t forget to leave tips for your chamber maid and the waiting staff – even if you’re staying at an ‘all inclusive’ resort.

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