Working time, time off work & minimum wage
Employees entitled to minimum employment rights
Up to 48 hours a week. Employees must have at least 1 paid day off every 6 days (usually Sundays). The Colombian Labor Code allows employees to work 48 hours per week distributed over 5 days in order to also have all Saturdays as days of rest.
The Colombian Congress approved a bill whereby the weekly working hours will gradually decrease within the next 5 years. The bill gradually reduces the maximum weekly working hours to 42 per week, without reducing salary or affecting employees’ rights. Nevertheless, employers may reduce the weekly working hours before the deadlines set forth by law. The reduction of the working schedule shall be implemented by the employers as follows:
Maximum implementation date
Maximum weekly working hours
July 15, 2023
July 15, 2024
July 15, 2025
July 15, 2026
Special shifts are permitted according to the needs of the company.
An employee may not be required to work more than 2 hours per day as overtime or more than 12 hours in a given week. The ordinary working day is from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. Overtime during the day is paid at a rate of 25 percent on top of the ordinary hourly rate. The working night is from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am; workers who ordinarily work during these hours must be paid 35 percent on top of the ordinary hourly rate. Overtime pay for night work is equivalent to 75 percent on top of the ordinary hourly rate.
Employers must have a special permit from the Ministry of Labor for overtime work.
Employees who perform functions of direction, trust or management as well as employees who are engaged in intermittent activities or in activities of simple vigilance (eg, security guards), provided they stay at the workplace, are excluded from the above rules regarding the maximum workday and overtime.
The minimum wage is determined by the Colombian government every calendar year. The minimum wage for 2023 is COP1,160,000 million (approximately USD240) per month. The minimum wage is increased annually using the Consumer Price Index (IPC) as a reference.
Salaries in Colombia may be agreed under the ordinary or integrated salary scheme.
Employees under the ordinary salary scheme are entitled to the following mandatory fringe benefits and payments in addition to the monthly remuneration:
- Severance aid. Equivalent to 30 days of salary for every year of service, proportionally for fractions of a year.
- Interest on severance. Equivalent to 12 percent of the severance payment per year, proportionally for fractions of a year.
- June and December service bonus. Equivalent to 15 days' salary, payable to the employee every calendar year. The first payment must be made on the last day of June, and the second payment must be made within the first 20 days of December, in proportion to the time worked during the respective calendar semester.
- Vacation. 15 working days of vacation for every year of service.
- Work clothes 3 times a year (ie, April, August and December) to employees who earn less than twice the minimum wage.
- Transportation allowance or connectivity allowance, depending on the work modality (for the year 2022: COP140,606; approximately USD30), for employees who earn less than twice the minimum monthly legal wage.
The ordinary salary scheme is mandatory for salaries below 13 times the monthly minimum wage (COP13 million for 2022). If the proposed salary is equal or higher to that amount, an integrated salary scheme may be agreed.
The monthly integrated salary includes the legal, social or fringe benefits provided to employees, except for vacations (employees are entitled to 15 business days of vacation per year). This includes the following:
- Severance aid (auxilio de cesantías)
- Interest on severance aid (intereses a las cesantías)
- Legal service bonuses and extra-legal bonuses
- Any type of surcharge Sunday and holiday surcharge and days off
- Night work surcharge
- Subsidies and in-kind supplies
- Travel allowances, within the Colombian territory or abroad Bonuses of all types and natures
- In general, all benefits that an employee receives in money or in kind, either regularly or sporadically, except for vacation
The minimum monthly integrated salary must be equivalent to at least 13 times the minimum wage.
The employee is entitled to 15 business days of vacation per year, proportional to the fraction of a year.
Sick leave & pay
If an employee cannot work due to illness or an accident, a medical authorization from a Colombian Social Security entity must be obtained in order for the employee to get paid for the days during which the employee could not attend work. The employer pays sick leave during the employee's absence (for an indefinite period) but, as from the third day of sick leave, the employer can claim the payment back from the social security system.
Moreover, employees are entitled to paid leave of 10 working days per year to care for minors suffering a terminal illness or condition. The leave must be agreed with the employer and may be taken by the father, mother or whoever has custody and care of the minor. An employer may seek reimbursement for the payment to the employee during leave from the healthcare social security system.
Maternity/parental leave & pay
Paid maternity leave for every employed pregnant or adoptive mother in Colombia is granted for 18 weeks. Mothers are entitled to 1 weeks before childbirth and 17 weeks after. For medical reasons the mother can have 2 weeks before childbirth or can have the 2 weeks before childbirth postpartum, which means that the maternity leave will last 18 weeks after childbirth. Adoptive mothers, and fathers in charge of the newborn in case of sickness or death of the mother, are also entitled to this maternity leave.
A male employee is given 2 weeks of paid paternity leave when his spouse or significant other gives birth or he adopts a child. The Law sets forth that for every 1% point that the national unemployment rate decreases, paternity leave will be extended for 1 additional week. The extension of paternity leave will be maximum 5 weeks. The methodology to calculate unemployment rate will be jointly defined and published in December every year by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, the Colombian Central Bank, and the National Planning Department.
Shared parental leave: Parents may freely distribute or share between them the last 6 weeks of maternity leave.
Flexible part-time parental leave: Parents may choose to exchange a period of their leave for a part-time work period, equivalent to twice the time corresponding to the chosen period.
Other leave/time off work
Employees may also be entitled to leave for other purposes, such as bereavement, domestic calamity, breastfeeding or voting, among others.