The labour ministry announced on Monday that non-payment of the 13th salary is an offence liable for up to six months’ imprisonment and/or up to €15,000 fine.
“whether it be paid as a result of a collective agreement or personal contract or as company practice, is part of the employee’s salary and therefore non-payment amounts to a breach of the provisions of the law on the protection of wages,” the labour ministry said.
The law, it said, gives workers the right to claim it through civil action, but it also provides that it’s non-payment constitutes a criminal offence and for the prosecution of the employer.
In the case of conviction, the employer might be sentenced to up to six months’ imprisonment and or up to €15,000 fine.
But the Employers and Industrialists’ Federation (OEV) last month said payment of the 13th salary in the private sector was not mandatory if an employer has agreed with their employees not to pay it.
“Due to the continuing unfavourable economic situation of businesses, many employers have come to arrangements with the workers’ representatives or the employees themselves either for non-payment of the 13th salary or its partial payment, or for its gradual payment within the next year,” OEV said.
“Where such agreements are in place, they are entirely valid and binding as to their content.”
Only if no agreement has been made are employers legally obliged to pay the 13th salaries before the end of the year, the statement said.