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How to Employ Workers in Colombia

What are the main aspects of recruitment, and what factors are involved in collective agreements and trade unions?

Gustavo José Gnecco, partner at Godoy Córdoba Littler lawyers firm, presents the “Labor System” chapter from 2019 Bogota’s Foreing Investment Guide.

The Colombian labor law system applies across the country and is contained in various laws issued by the Colombian Congress. The Substantive Labor Code, in turn, is the primary source of labor law and is divided into the individual system and the collective system.

The individual system regulates contract types, salaries, working hours, mandatory breaks and employer contributions, among other aspects. One of its main elements is the regulation of employment contracts, through which relationships are created between employees and employers, involving 3 elements: the personal provision of a service, a salary, and a hierarchical relationship. 

The collective system regulates trade unions, collective labor disputes, agreements, collective pacts and union contracts. Associations of this type must meet requirements in order to be formed and operate.

Take into account: 

  • Normal working hours cannot exceed 8 hours per day, or 48 hours per week. 
  • Employee trial periods cannot last longer than two months. 
  • Paid vacations amount to a rest period of 3 working weeks for each year of service.

Keep in mind

  • In Colombia, work can easily be outsourced or contracted out through agencies, independent contractors or simple intermediaries. A working relationship (real contract) can often be created between a contractor and an employer, if the former does not work autonomously and a hierarchical relationship exists. 
  • The general social security system is a state program that aims to raise the quality of life of the Colombian population.

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Download the complete version of the investment guide, in which you will be able to learn more about the generalities, principles, types of foreign investment, international instruments for the foreign investment protection, among others.


Godoy Córdoba Littler

With over 30 years of experience and partners of Littler, Godoy Córdoba operates in the areas of labor law, social security law and migration law through risk management, preventive consulting, cost reduction and strategic decision-making.

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