Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The primary source of labor law is the Código Sustantivo del Trabajo, commonly translated into English as the Substantive Labor Code.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

Regular working hours are 8 per day and 48 per week. The 8-hour daily limit does not apply to managerial and supervisory workers. An employer and an employee may agree to a flexible schedule, with 48 work hours distributed over a maximum of six days with a compulsory rest day on Sunday. 


In no case do the extra hours of work, day or night may exceed two (2) hours a day and twelve (12) a week. When the working day is extended by agreement between employers and workers to ten (10) hours a day, it will not be possible to work overtime on the same day.


The maximum duration of working hours can be increased up to 56 hours per week due to the urgent nature of work.


The employer and the employee may agree that the forty-eight (48) hour week is carried out through flexible daily working hours, distributed in a maximum of six days a week with a mandatory rest day, which may coincide with the Sunday. Thus, the number of hours of daily work may be distributed in a variable manner during the respective week, having a minimum of four (4) continuous hours and a maximum of up to ten (10) hours a day without any surcharge for supplementary work, when the number of working hours do not exceed the average of forty-eight (48) hours per week within the Ordinary Workday from 6 am to 9 pm.


Shift Work – When the nature of the work does not require continuous activity and is carried out in shifts, the duration of the day may be extended by more than 8 hours, or by more than 48 per week, provided that the average hours of work calculated for a period that does not exceed 3 weeks, does not exceed 8 hours a day or 48 a week. This extension does not constitute supplementary or overtime work. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, arts. 161-­166.


Overtime is limited to 2 hours per day and 12 hours per week.


Overtime is paid with a 25 percent premium over the regular monthly wage rate if the overtime work is done during the day, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., or a 75 percent premium if the overtime work is done at night, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. 


Overtime pay must be included in the payment for the period in which it falls or at the very latest in the following regularly scheduled payments. If a workday is extended by mutual agreement between the workers and the employer to 10 hours a day, workers may not work overtime on those days. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, arts. 167­168.

Night Work

Night hours shall start from 10.00 pm in the night to 6.00 am in the morning. If the employee has to work during the night hours the salary must be 35% premium over the regular monthly wage rate.


The workday is broken into at least two parts with a break that suits the nature of the work and the employees’ needs. The rest break is not counted as working time. The weekly rest period must be at least 24 continuous hours. Sunday is generally the rest day for employees.

Sunday Work

Sunday work is understood to be occasional when the worker works up to two Sundays during the calendar month. It is understood that Sundays work as usual when the worker works three or more Sundays during the calendar month.


Sunday daytime work is paid with a 75 percent premium. Any overtime work done during day hours on a Sunday is paid with a 100 percent premium. Sunday night time work is paid with a 110 percent premium and overtime work on night hour on Sunday is paid with a 150 percent premium.

Public Holidays

Employees who are required to work on a holiday are entitled to a 75 percent premium above their basic pay. Employees are entitled to 18 statutory holidays:

  • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
  • Jan. 6: Epiphany*
  • March 19: St. Joseph’s Day*
  • Holy Thursday (date varies)
  • Good Friday (date varies)
  • May 1: Labor Day
  • Ascension of Jesus (date varies)*
  • Corpus Christi (date varies)
  • Sacred Heart (date varies)*
  • June 29: St. Peter and St. Paul*
  • July 20: Independence Day
  • Aug. 7: Battle of Boyacá
  • Aug. 15: Assumption of Mary*
  • Oct. 12: Columbus Day*
  • Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day*
  • Nov. 11: Independence of Cartagena*
  • Dec. 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
  • Dec. 25: Christmas

*When these dates fall on a day other than Monday, the holiday is taken on the following Monday. When the aforementioned holidays fall on Sunday, the paid rest will be transferred to Monday. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, art. 177.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to 15 consecutive business days of annual leave with full pay after one year of service. Employees are required to take at least 6 annual leave days a year. Vacation days may be accumulated for a period of 2 years based on agreement. In cases where the employer wants the employee to take leave on a specific day, it must inform the employee of the dates of leave at least 15 days prior to the date on which that leave will begin. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, arts. 186, 190; Law No. 995 of 2005, art. 1.

Minimum Wage

National Minimum Wage in Colombia is $ 908,526 pesos per month. 


The employees who earn an ordinary salary are also entitled to receive a 13th salary, which is paid twice a year, 50% in June and the other half in December.

Special Leave

Sick Leave

An employee with at least 4 weeks’ contributions to the social security system is eligible for 180 days’ sick leave at two-thirds pay. The employer pays for the first two days of the absence, the social security system for the remainder. If the illness or injury is work-related, the employee will receive 100 percent of salary from the social security system. Decree 2,943 of 2013.

Maternity Leave

Every employee in a state of pregnancy has the right to a 14-week leave at the time of delivery, remunerated with the salary earned when entering to enjoy the rest. The duration of 14 weeks of paid leave shall also apply to adoptive mothers/ partners who are adopting a minor. Of the 14 weeks of paid leave, the week prior to the probable delivery will be mandatory.


The maternity leave for mothers of premature children will take into account the difference between the gestational date and the full-term birth, which will be added to the 14 weeks. In the case of mothers with Multiple Births, the reasons for premature children will be taken into account, extending the leave by 2 more weeks.


If agreed between the parents, the last 6 weeks of the maternity leave can be transferred to the father of the child to complete the paternity leave, as they see fit. However, transferred weeks cannot be fragmented, interleaved, or taken simultaneously. In order for the weeks to be transferred, employers must require a letter from both parents, the week distribution approved by the doctor, and a medical certificate with information regarding the birth date and the leave`s start date.


A working mother is permitted to extend the leaves by working half-time during the last 6 weeks. However, it is optional for employers to grant this possibility, therefore during the 5 working days following the request of the employee, the employer must notify its decision.


In the event of the mother’s death before the termination of the maternity leave, the employer of the child’s father shall grant him a leave of duration equivalent to the time remaining until the expiration of the period of the postpartum leave granted to the mother. The employee who makes use of the paid leave at the time of delivery will take the 14 weeks of leave to which she is entitled, as follows:


Prepartum maternity leave – This will be 2 weeks prior to the probable due date of delivery. If for some medical reason the expectant mother cannot opt ​​for these 2 previous weeks, she will be able to enjoy the 14 weeks in the immediate postpartum. Likewise, the future mother may transfer one of the 2 weeks of previous leave to enjoy it after the delivery, in this case, she would enjoy 13 weeks postpartum and one week before delivery.


Postpartum maternity leave – This leave will have a duration of 12 weeks from the date of delivery or thirteen weeks by the decision of the mother. Paid rest in case of abortion An employee who during the pregnancy suffers an abortion or a non-viable premature birth, has the right to a paid leave of two to four weeks, which was earned at the time of starting the break.


Nursing Breaks: The employer is obliged to grant the worker two breaks, of 30 minutes each, within the day, to breastfeed her child, without any discount on the salary for the said concept, during the first 6 months old.

Paternity Leave

A working father is entitled to 2 weeks of paid leave after the birth of his child to his spouse or permanent partner or the adoption of a child by him and his wife or permanent partner. The father must have at least 100 weeks of contributions to the social security system to qualify for full cash benefits. A single man who is adopting a child is entitled to the full 14 weeks or 84 days of paid leave and other benefits granted for maternity leave, starting on the day the employee takes custody of the child.


A working father is permitted to extend the leaves by working half-time during the last week. However, it is optional for employers to grant this possibility, therefore during the 5 working days following the request of the employee, the employer must notify its decision. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, art. 236 & Law 1822 of 2017.

Trade Union Leave

Employees are entitled to personal leave to serve on a trade union committee. Employees also are entitled to leave for other trade union purposes if they give adequate notice to the employer and the absence does not adversely affect the business.

Personal Leave

An employee may take five days’ paid leave to attend to “serious” personal matters.

Bereavement Leave

An employee is entitled to five days’ paid leave for the death of a spouse or permanent partner, a parent, a child, a sibling, a grandparent, a grandchild, a mother or father-­in-­law, son or daughter-­in-­law, a stepchild or a stepparent.

Voting Leave

Employees are entitled to personal leave to vote.

Military Service Leave

The employment contract is deemed suspended if an employee is called to military service. The employer must allow the employee to resume the same job within 30 days after the service is completed.

Last updated on: October 13th, 2021