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News & Knowledge

Colombia: Temporary and special measures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis

9th April 2020

MSI's Colombian law member Sanclemente Fernandez Abogados provides an overview of the measures issued by the Colombian government in connection with severance pay, granting of vacation time during the Covid-19 crisis and unpaid leaves of absence (Legislative Decree No. 488 of 2020 and Circular 27 of 2020 from the Ministry of Labor).

A. Legislative Decree No. 488 of 2020

By means of Legislative Decree No. 488 dated 27 March 2020, the Ministry of Labor authorized employers and workers to the take the following emergency actions, taking into account the significant reduction in income for workers and payment difficulties companies may face arising from the compulsory preventive isolation and the declaration of Ecological, Economic and Social Emergency.

  1. As long as the conditions leading to this crisis remain, employers will not be required to give fifteen-day advance notice instructing their employees to take paid vacation time. From the time this Decree becomes effective, employers will only have to give a one day advance notice to their employees so that they may start enjoying their collective, compensated or advanced vacation time.
  2. All workers who have seen their monthly incomes reduced will be authorized to request and obtain a cash payment per month equal to the amount missing from the monthly income usually received by each worker. This money will be paid by the severance pay and pension fund to which the worker is affiliated and charged to the funds deposited to the individual worker account. The
    above will only apply for private severance pay and pension funds.The decree further states that there will be no additional requirements to this end other than an employer certification concerning the reduction of monthly income for the worker. In this case no restrictions will apply related to partial or total withdrawal of severance pay before employment contract termination or withdrawal for housing or education purposes provided under the law.
  3. Dependent or self-employed workers under categories A and B who have lost their jobs but paid contributions to the Family Compensation Fund for one year, either uninterruptedly or interruptedly, within the last five years, will receive financial aid to cover their expenses according to the needs and expenditure priorities of each beneficiary for an amount equal to two minimum legal monthly salaries. This aid will be paid in three equal installments as long as the emergency lasts and for a maximum term of three months.
  4. For retirees or pensioners living outside the country, suspension will apply from the time the aforesaid Decree becomes effective and for a term of six months to render proof of life (survival) before those entities comprising the Integral Social Security System.

B. Circular No. 27 of 2020 from the Ministry of Labor

The Ministry of Labor has stated under this circular that employers may not require their workers to request unpaid leaves of absence on occasion of the COVID-19 crisis. The Ministry has further stated that it will implement controls, even those of a police nature, in order to guarantee observance of this circular among employers.

About Sanclemente Fernandez Abogados SA - Bogota

For over 78 years we have been successfully advising leading companies in the national and international market in matters relating to foreign investment, corporate, commercial, labor, tax, environmental laws, litigations and contracts.

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