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 this situation, work hours may range from a minimum off our continuous hours per day up to 10 hours per day without payment for overtime. Flexible working hours can only be agreed on in daytime working hours, from Monday to Saturday, that is, from 6:00 to 21:00 hours. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, arts. 161­166.


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 9.00 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 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

Female employees will be entitled to paid maternity leave of 18 weeks. The week before the childbirth will be mandatory (leave) for the mother. For premature births, the duration of maternity leave will be 18 weeks plus the difference between the gestational date and the birth date. For multiple births, the duration will be 20 weeks, if the infants are born alive. Leave is extended for the father or whoever has custody, in the case of death or illness of the mother. In cases of miscarriage or premature non-viable delivery, the duration of the leave will be two to four weeks. The exact duration will be defined by the treating physician. Recognition of maternity leave will also apply to an adopting father without a spouse. It may be extended to two weeks, as in the case of multiple births, when more than one child is adopted.

Nursing Breaks

When the employee returns to work, she can take two 30 ­minute breaks per day for breast ­feeding or as rest breaks with no reduction in wages until the child is 6 months old. If she produces medical certification that she requires more frequent breaks, the employer must grant the extra time. Employers must establish premises adjacent to the workplace for nursing or another place suitable for the care of a child. A woman who is adopting a child may take the same amount of leave and other benefits, starting on the day the employee takes custody of the child. The adoption provision applies to workers in both the private and the public sectors. The employer must keep the employee’s job open during her maternity leave. Substantive Labor Code, 1950, no. 3,518, arts. 236, 239­241.Law 1822 of 2017, amended articles 236 and 239 of the Colombian Employment Code & the operational rules under the Circular 024 of 2017 of the Ministry of Health.

Paternity Leave

A working father is entitled to 8 days 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. 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: March 5th, 2021