international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Colombia: Labour Reform Bill: Updated Status

It is worth remembering that the labour reform was not discussed on Congress for almost three weeks. This absenteeism, which prevented the reform from being approved in the first debate. Even thought, the government assured the country, that the bill would be filed again on 20 July, this was not the fact.

The labour reform bill timeline can be summarised as follows:

  1. Filing of the labour reform bill on 16 March, the government files the labour reform bill in the House of Representatives (Congress).
  2. Bill transfer to Commission, on 24 March the draft of the bill is transferred to Committee VII (labour chamber).
  3. On 31 March, all-party rapporteurs are appointed.
  4. Lecture, between the 17 and 24 May three positive drafts and one draft closed on the labour bill are filed.
  5. Panel Discussion, debate on the bill starts on 30 May in Commission VII of the Chamber of Representatives.
  6. On 20 June, the labour reform bill ended up being shelve.
  7. The Labour reform bill was not filed again on 20 Julyas it was announced by the Government.
  8. Presidential Submission (Final step on the timeline) This would likely to happen after 4 debates and the final consolidated labour law reform bill, the Congress shall forward it to the President of Colombia for his approval and signature. Once the new labour Reform bill is submitted.

How likely will the Labour Law Reform Bill be resubmitted as it was?

According to our own consideration and bearing in mind that the proposals might easily change according to the political situation and current discussion in the Congress. There were proposals that were on discussion that were not very keen to be approved by Congress, they will be resubmitted with some adjustments. Among those proposals, we find important to highlight the following:

  • Regarding the new mandatory leaves for employees are not likely to be filed again as they were written or proposed, such as the special leave for menstrual cycles, school obligations for children or minor member of household, adjustments for worker with disability to keep working, job placement encourage for women, LGBTI+ people, ethnic communities, among other groups in vulnerable conditions.
  • The fact that Migration Status does not influence the ability to comply with the employment contract benefits.
  • Direct employment contract on digital Delivery Platforms, no exclusivity agreement, social security regulation of algorithms as expression of subordination.
  • The termination of contract without cause, in case is resubmitted, will suffer several changes, since stipulates that companies should create processes to have proof of reasons for termination to avoid discrimination claims. Reinstatement or compensation, leaving the employee to choose which suits them better.
  • As well as the proposed changes on temporary agencies and outsourcing, equal salaries and benefits of the outsourcings and temporary agencies employees, as well as joint liability in all outsourcing and contractors executing main-principal activities.

Now, among the proposed changes, it is feasible that them will be approved, in case the labour reform bill is resubmitted, but with several changes in the final approved text. Among those proposals, we find important to highlight the following:

  • Regarding reinforce job stabilities conditions “fueros” protection, such as the trade union, health, disability, maternity and breastfeeding as well as pre-retirement stability. These conditions already exist in Colombia by case law development, they just need to be included as law, with adjustments in the conditions.
  • Severance conditions, to be adjusted but most likely to be modified regarding amounts and time of service.
  • Automatisation (digitalisation) as foundation for downsising in companies, the proposed changed are likely to be adjusted, right to relocation for employees, ministry of labour authorises layoff due to automation, unemployment insurance for automation, companies must devise closure for mining operations.
  • Regarding contractors, the way is written in the bill as prohibition of direct contractor for permanent and subordinate activities, as presumption of employment relationship, and equal rights for salary and benefits.
  • Changes regarding creation of trade unions and job stabilities connected to it. Trade unions classification “in whatever form they see fit.” Guaranteed union leave, not stipulated, and criminal liability to anti-union behaviour and its effects.
  • In Collective labour law, the new bargaining process regarding unity of list of demands, multilevel bargaining, just 10% membership required for extension agreement and extension to contractor’s chain, as well as new rules for benefits extension in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and strike conditions and regulations.

And finally, the last group of proposals that would likely be approved, in case the bill is resubmitted, mostly because they were also filed as a separate bill, are as follows:

  • Contracting rules in direct employment contracts, by general rules the company hiring policies use open-ended contracts, so this would not have a major impact than the one having a clear procedure for the exceptional uses of fixed-term contracts and reviewing fixed-term contracts (contingent or casual) than the one we have now.
  • Modification of the mandatory intern contract in the employment contract.
  • Working hours and overtime, are already a law to be implemented soon regarding adjustments in the working hours, as well as Sunday, holidays and night work overtime that was already filed as a separate bill.
  • Salary mandatory increase.
  • Parental leave, as one of the special leaves proposed.

Key Action Points for Human-Resources and In-House Counsel.

In case the Labour reform bill is resubmitted, will be incredibly significant for employers in all sectors.

With this brief summary, employers will have some visions of what would likely to happen in the following months regarding the labour reform bill once the government decides to file it again.