I'm working in Germany. My company usually gives a 13th salary to its employees, divided in 2 parts (one half in June, and the second in December). It's not technically a 13th salary, since it's not on my contract and they often stated that this is a voluntary bonus that they give.

Now, since I've announced my resignation (they haven't stated the reason YET but that is the only explanation), they are not going to give it to me, even though I've received it in the past and I qualify for it (I've worked the whole year, and I'm going to be employed until the end of December).

Are they allowed to do that? I know it's a voluntary thing, but if my colleagues are receiving it, is my company allowed to just exclude me from it?

  • 1
    If it's not in the contract it will be difficult to argue that you are entitled to this bonus. However, a lot of employment law cares more about how the work contract is actually lived, less about what has been written. If the bonus was effectively part of the base salary (not dependent on performance, constant amount) then there's a small chance a court might actually consider it to be part of your salary.
    – amon
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 19:07
  • Is it written in some Tarifvertrag that this money is given? These sometimes say you cannot keep the money if you leave within 3 months after it's paid. German law knows frei­wil­li­ge Son­der­zah­lung (voluntarily as in your case) on the one hand and wi­der­ruf­li­che Son­der­zah­lungen (paid regularly, guaranteed) on the other. Commented Nov 30, 2019 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


If it’s voluntary, it’s voluntary

However, it’s possible that, if it’s always given to everyone who meets certain criteria that it would not actually be considered voluntary, that is, the contract has been varied by the repeated act of always doing the “voluntary” thing. You would have to go to court to make this argument.

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