The work environment in Colombia differs significantly from the one in Anglophone countries. Foreigners are generally subject to a culture shock when working in Bogota, as the environment is much more relaxed and things usually take longer than planned.
Local law is another defining factor of the work practices, which are characterized by a high bureaucracy and rigidity, especially when employing foreigners. Diplomas and certificates are often requested by employers, part-time contracts are not allowed, and work contracts generally end in December, with work insecurity being prevalent at the beginning of each year.
Conditions vary from company to company, however, and many branches of multinationals have working standards on par with other countries.
Colombia has a 48-hour working week, with eight hours a day, six days a week. Work hours depend on the company, and while many start at 8 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m. with a two-hour lunch break, work shifts that start at 6 a.m. and end at 2 p.m. are not uncommon.
Overtime hours are limited to 12 per week, as long as the employee is given one day of rest on Saturday.
The law requires a difference in pay between hours worked during daytime (between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.) and during nighttime, with the latter paid 35% more than the daytime hours. Overtime hours during daytime should also be paid at a rate 25% higher than normal hours, and overtime performed at night is paid at 175% the regular rate.
The minimum wage in Colombia has been set at COP 781,242 per month in 2018, with a 5.9% increase since the previous year. The minimum wage generally increases yearly, in order to keep up with the inflation.
Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in the world, and this is also evident at the salary level. Average pay varies widely across sectors, levels of experience and responsibility, with well-paid positions earning as much as 25 times the minimum salary or more. The average salary is approximately COP 2,250,000. However, at a recent survey realized by DANE, the country's national statistics institution, more than 70% of Colombians have revealed earning less than the average.
Educational level is also a decisive factor for earning capacity, with owners of postgraduate degrees earning on average twice as much as the rest.
Employment contracts must be in written form, duly signed by both parties and drafted in accordance with the Colombian Constitution and Labour Code.
Employment agreements in Colombia fall into the following categories:
Any trial periods, salary and termination clauses should be included in the agreement.
All contracts are full-time, as part-time employment agreements are not stipulated by Colombian law.
Notice periods are negotiated on a case-by-case basis and included in the employment contract. They usually depend on the employee's position within the company, as management or higher responsibility roles will usually need a longer notice period.
The common practice for most jobs is that both parties may give a termination notice up to one month.
Colombians are entitled to 15 days of time off per year. Some companies, especially branches of foreign multinationals, may agree to offer more than the legal minimum, but this is not the norm in most firms.
Most Colombians take these days off in early January or early July.
In addition to the annual days of paid leave, Colombia offers 18 days of public holidays, (festivos). Most businesses are closed on these days, and so as government offices.
Some religious and civil holidays are observed on the day they are celebrated. However, for most of legal holidays, Colombian law requires they are granted as time off the following Monday, effectively prolonging the week-end days into what is locally known as a puente.
Public holidays in Colombia are:
In order to know the exact dates when each holiday is observed during a particular year, refer to Calendario de Colombia.
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