Columbia, a country located in the Northwest portion of South America, with a population of approximately 46 million, has started to overcome its reputation for drug trafficking and violent crime and has transitioned to a place many large international employers, such as Facebook, Starbucks, Google and Microsoft, are flocking to do business. According to the International Monetary Fund, Columbia's economic growth is expected to triple in size from a decade ago and has become the fourth largest economy in Latin America. It is the only country in South America with two seacoasts and has developed a free market economy thereby attracting a wide range of markets in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. It is also known as providing among the best protections relevant to personal security and private property. Any employers currently doing business in Columbia or considering doing business there should be familiar with the laws governing the employment relationship in order to protect the company and facilitate success. This article will be the first in a series providing an introduction to employment law in the country.
I. Sources of Law
There are several sources of labor and employment law in Columbia including the following: (1) The Constitution which establishes core labor principles and obligations; (2) the Substantive Labor Code which establishes the laws applicable to employment agreements, wage and hour, collective bargaining agreements, vacation and sick time, and employment benefits; and (3) the regulations and decisions issued by the Ministry of Labor, labor courts and the Constitutional Court.
II. Employment Agreement
Employment Agreements in Columbia, known as "Contrato de Trabajo," can be written or oral; however, certain provisions including any trial period, the designation of a fixed duration employment, and...