Last updated on: April 27th, 2022
The primary source of labor law in Colombia is the Código Sustantivo del Trabajo, 1951 (last amended in 2021), commonly translated as the Substantive Labor Code which governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, leaves and employment relationships. There are several other laws that amended the Labor Code over a period of time namely, Law 2101 of 2021, Decree 2943 of 2013, Law 1846 of 2017, Law 1822 of 2017, Decree 1406 of 1999 & law 50 of 1990.
Hours & Pay Regulations
Normal Working Hours
Day work is performed in the period between 6 am and 9 pm. The maximum legal duration of the ordinary working day is 8 hours a day and 48 a week.
The maximum duration of the ordinary working day is 48 hours a week excluding overtime, which may be distributed, by mutual agreement, in either a 5 or 6 days work week always guaranteeing the day’s rest.
Employees who hold managerial positions or directorial positions, in domestic services & those who perform discontinuous or intermittent work, and those of simple surveillance, when they reside in the place or work site are not bound by the legal maximum working week of 48 hours.
The maximum limit of working hours may be raised, in tasks where the very nature of the work needs to be attended by successive shifts of employees, but in such cases, the hours of work cannot exceed 56 per week including overtime.
The employer and the employee may agree to successive work shifts, wherein employees may operate in a continuous shift during all days of the week, as long as the respective shift does not exceed 6 hours a day and 36 hours a week. In this case, there will be no night premium or premium for Sunday or holiday work, but the employee shall earn the salary corresponding to the ordinary working day, and will have the right to a paid day of rest.
The maximum limit of working hours may be increased by order of the employer and without permission from the labor authorities, due to force majeure, unforeseeable circumstances, the threat or occurrence of an accident, or when emergency work is essential that they must be carried out on the machines or on the company’s equipment, but work is only allowed to the extent necessary to prevent the normal operation of the establishment from being seriously disturbed.
Flexible Working Hours – The employer and the employee may agree that the 48 42 hour week shall be carried out through flexible daily working hours, distributed in a maximum of 6 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 4 continuous hours and a maximum of up to 9 hours a day without any premium for supplementary work, when the number of working hours does not exceed the average of 48 hours per week.
Saturday Rest – The 48 weekly hours of work may be distributed, extending the ordinary working day by up to 2 hours, by agreement between the employer and employee, but with the exclusive purpose of allowing employees to rest throughout Saturday. This extension does not constitute supplementary or overtime work.
Shift Work – When the nature of the work does not require continuous activity and is carried out in shifts by the employee, 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, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts. 161-166.
An employer who has 5 or more employees in the workplace, and who have not entered into a written contract, must keep a record of entry of employees, signed by both employer and employees. They shall record at least the specification of the work and the site where it is to be performed, the amount and form of the remuneration, and the duration of the contract.
The employer will be required to keep a daily record of overtime work for each employee, which shall specify the name of the latter, age, sex, the activity carried out, the number of hours worked, indicating whether they are day or night, and the settlement of the corresponding overtime pay.
Every employer must keep a special record of vacations in which they shall note the date on which each employee has entered the establishment, the date on which they take the annual leave and when it ends, and the remuneration received by the same. If during the term of the contract any or some of the aforementioned details are modified, these changes must be recorded in a separate register with reference to the previous data. A copy of these records must be issued to employees when they request it.
If an employer employs less than 5 employees and no written contract has been entered into, the employers, at the request of the employee, either directly or through the labor authorities, must issue a certification of the contract stating, at least: name of the parties in the contract, initial date of the provision of the service, nature of the contract and its duration. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.41, 162, 163, 187.
Employees shall be entitled to overtime pay if the working time exceeds 48 hours per week. Overtime work during day or night shall not exceed 2 hours per day and 12 hours per week.
Pay for Overtime Work – Overtime is paid with a 25% premium over the regular wage rate if the overtime work is done during the day( 6 a.m. to 9 p.m). If the daily working hours are scheduled as 10 hours on any day, the performance of overtime work is not permitted on such a day. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.167-168.
Night hours shall start from 9 pm in the night to 6.00 am.
Pay for Night Work – Employees who perform night work are entitled to a premium pay of 35% on the value of daytime work with the exception of employees working in continuous shift work of 36 hours per week.
Pay for Overtime at Night – Employees who work overtime during night hours shall be entitled to a 75% premium pay on ordinary daytime work. Pay for overtime work for night work shall be determined by the average of the same duration of daytime work. When work involves the successive rotation of day and night shifts, the employer and employee via agreement may stipulate uniform wages for day and night work. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.161, 168-169.
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.
In companies with more than 50 employees who work 48 hours a week, such employees shall have the right to 2 hours break per day to be used by them exclusively for recreational, cultural, sports or training activities. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.167.
The weekly rest period must be at least 24 continuous hours. The employer is obliged to give paid Sunday rest to all their employees. The employee may agree with the employer that the mandatory day of rest is on Saturday or Sunday, which will be recognized in all its aspects as mandatory institutionalized Sunday rest. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.172-185.
Work On Rest Days
Pay for Work on Weekly Rest day – Work during rest days will be remunerated with a premium of 75% on the ordinary salary in proportion to the hours worked or by providing a paid compensatory rest. If another paid rest day coincides with Sunday, and if the employee works on such day, they shall be entitled to the premium of 75% on the ordinary salary.
The employee who habitually works on a compulsory rest day has the right to a compensatory rest as well as the premium pay.
Compensatory weekly rest can be given in one of the following ways –
- On another working day of the following week, to all the employees of an establishment, or in shifts., or
- From noon or 1 pm on Sunday, until noon or 1 pm on Monday
Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.172-185.
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.
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
- Good Friday
- May 1: Labor Day
- Ascension of the Lord
- Corpus Christi
- Sacred Heart of Jesus
- 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 the holiday on January 6, March 19, June 29, August 15, October 12, November 1, Ascension of the Lord, Corpus Christi, and Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on a day other than Monday, the holiday is taken on the following Monday.
When any of the public holidays fall on Sunday, the public holiday will be transferred to Monday.
Pay for Work on Public Holiday – Work during public holidays will be remunerated with a premium of 75% on the ordinary salary in proportion to the hours worked or giving paid compensatory rest. Compensatory weekly rest can be given in one of the following ways –
- On another working day of the following week, to all the employees of an establishment, or in shifts.
- From noon or 1 pm on Sunday, until noon or 1 pm on Monday.
Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.177, 179, 183.
Employees are entitled to 15 consecutive working days of annual leave with full pay after 1 year of service.
Employees who are professionals and assistants working in private companies which are dedicated to fighting against tuberculosis and are engaged in the application of X-rays shall be entitled to 15 days of paid vacation leave for every 6 months of service provided.
The employer must announce 15 days in advance, the date on which the vacation will be granted. If there is a justified interruption in the enjoyment of the holidays, the employee does not lose the right to resume them. Employer and employee may agree in writing, to be paid in money for up to half of the annual vacation upon request of the employee. For compensation in money for vacations, the last salary earned by the employee shall be taken as the basis.
Accumulation of leave – Employees are required to take at least 6 annual leave days a year. The rest of the vacation days may be accumulated for a period of 2 years based on agreement. If the employee only has 6 days of vacation in a year, it is presumed that they can accumulate the remaining days of vacation to the subsequent year.
The accumulation can be up to 4 years, in the case of technical, specialized, trustworthy, management or foreign employees who provide their services in places other than the residence of their relatives.
Pay – During the vacation period, the employee will receive the ordinary salary that starts accruing on the day they begin to enjoy the leave. Work on compulsory rest days and the value of supplementary work in overtime will be excluded in case of the settlement of vacations. In the case of variable salary, the vacation pay shall be settled with the average amount earned by the employee in the year immediately prior to the date on which they are granted.
Termination of Employment – Employees who cease to work or have terminated their employment contracts, without using their vacations for the completed year, will have the right to be compensated in money proportionally for the time actually worked. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.186-192, Law No. 995 of 2005, art. 1.
As of January 1, 2022, the national minimum wage in Colombia is $ 1,000,000.00 pesos per month.
An employee who has proven incapacity to work due to non-work-related illness shall be entitled to have the employer pay them a monetary aid up to 180 days, as follows:
- 2/3rd of the salary for the first the 90 days and;
- half the salary for the remaining time.
The employer pays for the first 2 days of the absence, the social security system for the remainder. From day 3 onwards, all payments are assumed by the social security system. wherein the employer pay from day 3 until day 180, with reimbursement from the social security system. 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, Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.227.
Every pregnant employee has the right to 18 weeks paid leave at the time of delivery, remunerated with the salary earned at the beginning of the leave.
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 18 weeks. In the case of mothers with multiple births or mothers of a disabled child, the leave will be extended by 2 more weeks.
All the provisions under maternity leave for the biological mother are extended in the same terms & duration to the adopting mother, or to the father who is left in charge of the newborn without support from the mother, be it due to illness, abandonment, or death, official delivery of the minor who has been adopted, or of the one who acquires custody just after the birth.
The maternity leave is extended to the father in the event of the death, abandonment, or illness of the mother and the employer of the father of the child will grant the employee leave duration equivalent to the time remaining after the birth granted to the mother. Employees shall begin to enjoy the maternity leave 2 weeks before the probable date of delivery.
The employee must present the employer with a medical certificate, which must include, the pregnancy status, the indication of the probable day of delivery, and the indication of the day from which the leave must begin, bearing in mind that, at least, it must begin 2 weeks before delivery.
The employee who makes use of the leave at the time of delivery will take the 18 weeks of leave to which she is entitled, as follows:
- Prepartum Maternity leaves – This shall be taken 1 week prior to the probable due date of delivery. If for any medical reason the expectant mother requires an additional week prior to delivery, she may enjoy 2 weeks, with 16 weeks postpartum. If otherwise, for medical reasons the employee cannot take the week prior to delivery, they can enjoy the 18 weeks in the immediate postpartum period.
- Postpartum Maternity leaves – This leave shall be for a duration of 17 weeks from the date of delivery, or 16 or 18 weeks due to a medical decision stated above.
Out of the 18 weeks of paid leave, the week prior to the probable delivery will be mandatory unless the treating physician prescribes something different. The paid leave is incompatible with the domestic calamity leave and if the latter has been requested for the birth of a child, the maternity leave days will be deducted from it.
In the case of the working woman who for some reason does not enjoy the mandatory prepartum week, and/or some of the 17 weeks of leave, such employee shall be entitled to pay for the weeks that she did not enjoy the leave. In the case of multiple births, the employee shall have the right to pay for an additional 2 weeks and, in the event that the child is premature, to pay the difference in time between the date of delivery and the full-term birth.
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 2 or 4 weeks, that was earned at the time of starting the leave.
Breastfeeding Breaks: The employer is obliged to grant the employee 2 paid breaks, of 30 minutes each, within the day, to breastfeed her child, during the first 6 months. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts 236 – 238, 239(4).
A working father is entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. The paid paternity leave is available for the children born of the spouse or permanent partner, as well as for the adopting father. The only valid support for granting paid paternity leave is the Civil Birth Registry, which must be submitted to the EPS no later than 30 days after the child’s date of birth. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts 236 as amended by Law 2114 of 2021.
Parents may freely distribute among themselves the last 6 weeks of the mother’s leave. This leave, in the case of the mother, is exclusive of the breastfeeding break. Shared parental leave is governed by the following conditions –
- The time of shared parental leave will be counted from the date of delivery unless the treating physician has determined that the mother must take between 1 or 2 weeks of leave prior to the probable date of delivery or as by determination of the mother.
- The mother must take at least the first 12 weeks after delivery, which will be non-transferable. The remaining 6 weeks may be distributed between the mother and the father, by mutual agreement between the two parents.
- In no case may leave periods be fragmented, mixed/alternated, or taken simultaneously except for postpartum illness of the mother, duly certified by the doctor.
Shared parental leave shall also apply with respect to premature and adoptive children.
Pay – Shared parental leave will be remunerated based on the salary of the person enjoying the leave for the corresponding period.
Flexible Part-Time Parental Leave
The mother and/or father may opt for a part-time flexible parental leave, in which they may change a certain duration of their maternity or paternity leave for a part-time work period, equivalent to twice the time corresponding to the selected time period. This leave, in the case of the mother, is exclusive of the breastfeeding break.
Part-time flexible parental leave will be governed by the following conditions:
- Parents will be able to use this leave before week 2 of their paternity leave; mothers, no earlier than the 13 weeks of their maternity leave.
- Part-time flexible parental leave time will be counted from the date of delivery unless the treating physician has determined that the mother must take between 1 or 2 weeks of leave prior to the probable date of delivery. The periods selected for flexible parental leave cannot be interrupted and resumed later. They must be continuous, except in those cases in which there is an agreement between the employer and the employee.
Pay – Flexible part-time parental leave will be remunerated based on the salary of the person enjoying the leave for the corresponding period. The flexible part-time parental leave shall also apply with respect to premature and adoptive children. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts 236 paragraph 4-5.
An employee is entitled to 5 working 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, a son or daughter in law, a stepchild or a stepparent. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.57(10).
Employee shall be granted leave for voting during elections, for the performance of temporary official positions of forced acceptance; in the event of a duly proven serious domestic calamity, to carry out union commissions inherent to the organization or to attend the funeral of their colleagues, provided that they notify the employer or their representative in due time.
In the case of trade union leave or funeral of colleagues, the number of absentees shall not be such that it shall harm the operation of the company.
Unless otherwise agreed, the time spent on these leaves may be deducted from the employee’s working hours or compensated with an equal time of effective work in hours other than their ordinary working day, at the option of the employer. Substantive Labor Code, 1951 (Last amended 2021), no. 3,518, arts.57(6).