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Colombia: Series of Reforms to Labour Law and Workplace Related Issues in 2019

In the course of the year 2019, Colombia has developed a series of modifications regarding labour law and workplace related issues. This bulletin comprises a brief account of the main observations and changes that have taken place:

Workplace harassment law measures enforcement for interns

Preventive and corrective measures for workplace harassment are regulated by law, which can only be enforced to labour relations. Therefore, workplace harassment law should not be applied to trainees or interns.

Nonetheless, the Colombian Labour Ministry reassured, through a non-binding legal concept, that possible harassment behaviours should be addressed by the tutor or monitor, who have the responsibility to ensure the normal development of the internship and report to the Ministry any violation of rights. It should be noted, that the tutor and monitor have to be assigned to the intern by the company and the educational institution, respectively, at the beginning of the internship contract.

Sources: Labour Ministry´s legal concept No. 7663 2019 and Resolution No. 3546 of 2018

Electronic means for labour contract signatures

The non-binding legal concept issued by the Labour Ministry in June 2019, determined that labour contracts can be signed through electronic means, the only restrictions being the compliance of the requirements established in the Labour Code regarding obligatory clauses of these type of contracts, and the prohibition to charge any additional cost to the worker. Therefore, these means of signature are valid if the contract:

  • Is extended in as many copies as those interested,
  • Includes identification and domicile of the parties,
  • Identifies the place where the employee was hired,
  • Identifies the place where the service will be provided,
  • Determines the nature of the labour,
  • Determines the amount of the job´s remuneration and form of payment; and,
  • Establishes the duration of the contract, its eviction and termination.

Additionally, the Ministry suggests parties include in the agreement, technical stipulations to carry out communications, transactions and any other activity of data exchange.

Sources: Article 39 of the Labour Code and Labour Ministry´s legal concept No. 23705 of 2019

New reach for workplace harassment regulations as a result of ILO Convention

In Colombia, workplace harassment regulations have been restricted to employment relations, indicating it can only take place between workers with the same employment relationship. Nonetheless, on 21 June 2019 the member countries of the International Labour Organisation, including Colombia, adopted the 190 ILO Convention concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Within the relevant provisions of this agreement, it is worth noting, that labour harassment is not limited to the framework of a labour relationship derived from a labour contract, this being a broader reading of what Colombian legislation means by workplace harassment, extending its reach to other non-labour relations, such as contractors or interns. Consequently, Colombia is currently in the process of ratifying this Convention. Until then, internal regulation regarding workplace harassment is still in place.

Sources: Law No. 1010 of 2006 and 190 ILO Convention

Congress prohibits the use of asbestos in Colombia

Colombia’s congress has issued a new law by that prohibits the use of asbestos in the national territory. The ban of exploitation, production, commercialisation, import, distribution or export of any variety of asbestos and asbestos products will be enforceable from 1 January 2021. This implies new measures for the replacement of asbestos and the protection of the right to work for asbestos mines and industry workers.

Sources: Law No. 1968 of 2019

Presumption of trial period for domestic workers

The Colombian Labour Code contemplated a presumption of a trial period during the first 15 days of service for domestic workers, unless an agreement between the worker and his employer stipulated otherwise.

In January 2019, the Constitutional Court declared the presumption of a trial period for domestic workers unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable, as it considered trial periods to be an exception of employment stability that needed to be agreed upon by the worker and the employer.

Sources: Article 77 of the Labour Code and Constitutional Court Ruling No. C-029 2019