Paying Zakah as bonuses

Q: There is a custom among some people to offer bonuses to their employees or personnel. Among those are people who consider these bonuses to be a part of the Zakah (obligatory charity) due on their money. In doing so, they argue that these employees, who are given bonuses, are the ones who fall in the category of: ...and those employed to collect (the funds) Perhaps this is their own understanding or it may be that someone explained it to them as so. I hope that Your Eminence will give us the Shar`y (Islamically lawful) view in this matter.

A: The employees meant in the Ayah (Qur'anic verse) of Zakah are: Those sent by the ruler to collect Zakah (obligatory charity) from Zakah payers in order to deliver it to the Muslim treasury, those who work on keeping it, those who record Zakah, and those who distribute it over those who are eligible to receive it.This is proven through the practical Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) that was applied by his Rightly-Guided Caliphs after him and continued to be practiced by Muslims till the present day. As for the employees who work to one on whom Zakah is due, they do not fall under this category. Such persons must give Zakah to the Shar`y (Islamically lawful) categories of Zakah recipients. It seems that when giving Zakah to his employees, he wants to guarantee that they will continue working for him. In this case, he is exploiting Zakah for the benefit of his property. This is not permissible. Yet, if these employees are poor, there is no harm in giving them out of Zakah due upon him on account of their state of poverty, but not because they are (Part No. 10; Page No. 25) his employees, provided that are to be given their salaries in full apart from Zakah.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.