The Christmas shopping rush is in full swing and salespeople can look forward to record sales this year. Most employers are expected to be generous with this year's X-mas bonuses and what we call "13th salaries" meaning that the main shopping spree is yet to come. Daniela Lazarova has the story:
A thirteenth and fourteenth monthly salary appears to be a purely Czech invention--one that the nation has wholeheartedly embraced. Half of all Czech firms, both from the public and private sector, still offer employees the benefit of a thirteenth salary as part of their contract. 35% of firms guarantee both a thirteenth and fourteenth salary, and one percent of firms even offer a fifteenth salary.
Nobody is particularly eager to argue the case that there being only twelve months in a year makes a thirteenth and fourteenth salary appear nonsensical. The advantage of a thirteenth salary as opposed to a Christmas bonus is that the given sum of money is guaranteed regardless of how the firm is doing. A tight fiscal policy in 1999 led many public-sector firms to scrap 14th salaries and members of the lower house of Parliament voted to forego their fourteenth wage packet as well.
However, 13th salaries are still highly popular as a welcome Christmas bonus and the law guarantees that teachers, doctors , civil servants and politicians get them.
Who could possibly be against the idea of a bit of extra cash? Well, employment consultants are not particularly happy with the arrangement. The majority of them argue that guaranteed extra monthly salaries, not linked to performance, are de-motivating for employees and financially disadvantageous for firms. They would prefer performance-related bonuses or pay rises for the most deserving.
However, others warn that at a time of price hikes for basic necessities, a Christmas bonus--or whatever it may be called--to assist families cover the extra holiday expenses, helps to maintain the social peace. Moreover most of the money is immediately spent, boosting the state coffers.
Even with the busy Christmas rush upon them, salespeople are leaving little to chance. An increasing number of them are offering buying on installments and the young generation especially are taking advantage of this. All in all, everything points to the fact that this Christmas Czechs will take the shops by storm and Santa will be lugging around a very heavy sack indeed.
Luckily for him, the most popular Christmas present this year appears to be the mobile phone. And, looking at it from that angle, most employers should consider the extra salary money well spent. Their employees will be within reach twenty-four hours a day.
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