Country Information

Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America, with an estimated population of 50 million. Bogota is the capital and is located in the center of the country. Spanish is the official language and is spoken by most of the population. Petroleum is the most significant part of the country’s GDP. Additionally, the United States is Colombia’s largest trading partner. The World Bank stated that Colombia ranked 67 out of 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business index, which places Colombia in a privileged position to expand.

Employment Contracts

Employment contracts in Colombia can be indefinite or fixed-term. Indefinite contracts have an undefined duration but a defined scope of work. Fixed-term contracts have a set duration of up to three years. Contracts between one to three years in length can be renewed indefinitely but cannot become an indefinite contract. Fixed-term contracts also cover an assigned task where the duration is not defined but ends when the task is complete and for occasional work where the duration is less than a month.

Working Hours

Employees who work in management, domestic services, shift work or who are mechanical drivers are exempt from the legal maximum of work. Work that is performed during 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., but is not overtime, is paid 135% of the standard daytime rate, or 210% on a Sunday. Overtime is paid 125% of the standard salary on a regular day, 175% for work performed between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Sick Leave

Employees receive paid sick leave from the third day of the illness if they have a medical certificate. The employer pays during the absence and then claims it back from the social security office.

Maternity/Paternity Leave

Female employees receive 18 weeks of paid maternity leave. They can take a maximum of two weeks before the birth and then 16 weeks after the birth. They must submit a medical certificate with the due date and when the leave will start. For multiple births, maternity leave can be extended by two weeks. If there is a premature birth, the leave can be extended to include the earlier than expected arrival, if they can provide a medical certificate with the amount of extra leave specified. Male employees receive eight days of paid paternity leave or adoption leave.


A semi-annual bonus (prima de servicios) of 15 days of salary is paid on the final day of June and on Dec. 20 each year.

Vacation Leave

Employees receive 15 days of paid annual leave after a year of service and they must take at least six consecutive days of leave. Any remaining days can be carried over for up to two years. Those who are technicians, specialized workers or drivers can carry over their annual leave for up to four years. Some collective bargaining agreements allow for additional annual leave. Employees receive five days of paid personal leave for serious circumstances: five days leave for the death of a spouse, close relative, leave to vote in an election and military service leave, where the employee’s job is protected as long as they return to the same job within 30 days of their service finishing.

Public Holidays
  • New Year’s Day
  • Epiphany (Three Kings Day)
  • Saint Joseph’s Day
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Labor Day
  • Ascension Day
  • Corpus Christi
  • Sacred Heart
  • Saint Peter and Saint Paul
  • Independence Day
  • Battle of Boyacá
  • Assumption of Mary
  • Columbus Day
  • All Saints’ Day
  • Independence of Cartagena
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Christmas Day
Health Insurance Benefits

Columbia provides universal public healthcare. Companies also offer private healthcare insurance.

Employment / Termination / Severance

Employment contracts can be terminated due to the death of the worker, mutual consent, end of a fixed term contract, closure of a company, a business suspension of more than 120 days and the final judgment of an arbitration or hearing. When a permanent contract is unilaterally terminated, the employee receives 45 days of pay for a year of service and then 15 days extra pay for every year worked up to five years. This increases to 20 days a year for every year up to 10 years of service and then 30 days beyond this. If the employee ends the contract without just cause or notice, they must pay the employer 30 days of salary as compensation. There is no notice period for terminating an indefinite contract, while fixed-term contracts require 30 days of notice. When terminating a contract unilaterally, the employer must give 15 days of notice and specify the reasons(s).Severance pay depends on the employees wages or salary and years of service. There is no severance pay for dismissal with just cause.

Local Laws & Regulations

We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

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Partnering with Atlas when expanding into Colombia, can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.
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