Italian word of the day: ‘Tredicesima’

Italian word of the day: 'Tredicesima'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Unlucky thirteen? Not in Italy - and definitely not if you're a state employee at Christmas.

You may know that today's word means “thirteenth” in Italian. But if you're wondering why you hear it used so often around mid-December, we're here to explain.

La tredicesima is the name of a festive bonus paid in mid-December, just in time for gift shopping. It amounts to an extra – or thirteenth – monthly salary.

It's often seen as a perk for state employees, but actually arrives in the December pay packets of all employees with permanent or fixed-term contracts in Italy. It's not linked to performance, either.

It's legally mandated extra take-home pay, and it was first introduced under Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime to reward factory workers before being extended to all employees.

There has been little public appetite for abolishing the rule since.

However, in recent years more and more companies have been struggling afford to pay la tredicesima. And as Italy now faces a deep economic crisis, it's going to be even more difficult for businesses to do so this year – but even more welcome for those who do receive it.

Such a big bonus may sound unusual to people from the US or UK, but Brazil, Singapore, Germany and Austria are among the countries with similar policies.

As if that's not enough, Italy has a fourteenth salary, too. La quattordicesima is more common among  managers and executives, and is paid in June – just in time to fund a month or two of summer holidays.

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