Decrease in Working Hours

Alan Gongora, Esq. (NY)
Heinrich Frei, Esq. (COL).

Colombian employment law is currently undergoing significant structural and substantive changes as a result of a variety of new laws and regulations. One of the most prominent laws, Law 2101 of 2021 which amended Article 161 of the Work Employment Code, calls for a reduction in the maximum number of hours Colombian employees are required to work during the week.

Currently, employers can require employees to work up to a maximum of 48 hours per week. Limitations include the so-called, “Día de Familia” break which requires employers to offer 2 days off per calendar year (Article 3 of Law 1857 of 2017) and the Recreational Days Off requirement which requires employers with more than 50 employees to offer 2 hours off per week for specific recreational activities (Article 21 of Law 50 of 1990).

Following the implementation of this law, the maximum number of work hours per week will be reduced as follows:

  • 47 hours by July 15, 2023
  • 46 hours by July 15, 2024
  • 44 hours by July 15, 2025
  • 42 hours by July 15, 2026

Employers and employees can continue to jointly negotiate how to distribute work hours over 5 to 6 days while maintaining at least 1 day off during the work week. In addition, while employers cannot decrease salaries or other benefits as a result of these reforms, they will no longer be required to offer the “Día de Familia” and Recreational Days Off benefits once the maximum number of work hours reaches 42.

The legal and practical implications of these reforms will be profound. At a minimum, if you run a business in Colombia you may be required to:

  • renegotiate terms with your existing employees;
  • update/amend your current employment agreements to reflect these new requirements; and
  • update your payroll processes.

As always, let us know if you need assistance managing these new requirements.