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Colombia Leave Laws & Holidays

Paid Time Off (PTO), Vacation, Sick Leave, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave, Bereavement Leave, Jury Duty Leave, Military Leave, Voting Leave, and Marriage Leave

Table Of Contents

Last updated on February 2, 2024.

Paid Time Off (PTO) in Colombia

Vacation Leave Quota (Annual Leave)

15 days

Employees in Colombia are entitled to 15 business days of paid annual leave (vacation). This entitlement begins after completing 12 months of service with their employer. Vacation time is proportionally calculated (prorated) for those who have not yet completed a full year, with each month of service earning them one and a quarter days of leave. The Labor Code does not specify if paid vacation increases with longer service.

Vacation policy in Colombia is better than, for example, in the US (no guaranteed vacation) or Canada (10 days), but most European countries, like the United Kingdom and France, have longer vacation periods.

In addition to paid annual leave, employees receive 18 paid public holidays.

Employees must be notified of their vacation dates at least 15 days prior to the start of their leave.

Carry Over

An employee is required to use at least 6 vacation days per year. Any unused days can be rolled over for up to a maximum of 2 years.

Payout

The payment received during vacation aligns with the basic salary that the employee was earning on the day the leave began. For employees with variable earnings, the annual leave payment is determined by calculating the average salary earned in the year before the start of the annual leave.

Statutory Provisions Addressing Vacation Pay

The regulations do not address the issue of receiving compensation instead of annual leave, or the possibility of an employee forfeiting or giving up their right to paid annual leave while still employed.

Payment of Accrued, Unused Vacation on Termination

Upon termination of employment, an employer is required to pay for any vacation that the employee has not taken for that year.

Sick Leave in Colombia

Up to 180 days

Employees are entitled to up to six months (180 days) of sick leave for illnesses that are not work-related. Sick leave policy in Colombia is one of the best in the world.

Throughout the entire leave period, eligible employees are entitled to receive financial assistance under the following provisions:

  • Two-thirds (66.67%) of their earnings for the first 90 days
  • Half (50%) of their earnings for the remainder of the sick leave

An employer covers the cost of the first two days of an employee’s sick leave. Starting on the third day, the payments are handled by the Colombian health system. In practice, the employer continues to pay from the third day up to the 180th day, but can then claim reimbursement from by the government through the Sistema General de Seguridad Social (General Social Security System for Health).

To qualify for these benefits, applicants must provide a medical certificate from social security confirming their inability to work.

Any occupational disease or injury that is work-related is reimbursed at a rate of 100% of the salary for the entire duration, paid by either the employer or Colombian social security.

Funding for Sick Leave Benefits

Sick leave benefits are funded by contributions from both workers, at 4% of their monthly salary, and employers, at 8.5% of payroll.

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Maternity Leave in Colombia

18 weeks

Mothers in Colombia are entitled to 18 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, with one week of prenatal leave being mandatory.

Maternity leave generally consists of:

  • Prenatal – pregnancy leave: 1 week before the due date
  • Postnatal – leave to care for the newborn child: 17 weeks after childbirth

If a premature birth happens, the maternity leave period can be extended to accommodate the early delivery.

In the event of multiple births, the leave shall be extended by 2 more additional weeks.

Following a miscarriage, an employee is entitled to paid leave for 2 to 4 weeks.

During the first 6 months, an employer is obligated to provide an employee with two paid breastfeeding breaks, each lasting 30 minutes.

To qualify for maternity leave, a pregnant employee must provide a medical certificate to their employer, specifying the expected delivery date and the proposed start date of the leave.

Enhanced Pregnancy Bias Protections in Hiring Practices

In 2021, the Colombian government introduced a new law that included provisions for the fair treatment of female employees during the hiring process. This law prohibits employers from asking about a female job applicant’s family planning intentions or requiring pregnancy tests. Employers who violate these regulations may face fines.

Maternity Leave Payment

Maternity leave is fully paid (100%) through social security. The process works as follows: the employer pays the employee their regular salary, and is then reimbursed by the government through the General Social Security System for Health.

Paternity Leave in Colombia

2 weeks

Employees who become fathers, including adoptive fathers, are entitled to two weeks of fully paid paternity leave. The payment process mirrors maternity leave, where the employer initially covers the cost and then gets fully refunded by the social security system.

(A new law introduced in 2021 extended paternity leave from its previous duration of eight days to the current two weeks.)

Update for 2024!:

Although the labor reform project seeks to increase paternity leave, it has not yet been approved. However, the proposal outlines changes in the following years, so paternity leave would gradually increase to 8 weeks in 2024, 10 weeks in 2025, and 12 weeks in 2026. If this legislation is implemented in 2024, it will immediately go into effect.

Shared Parental Leave in Colombia

Shared parental leave allows parents to divide the final six weeks of maternity leave between them.

Adoption Leave in Colombia

All the provisions applicable to biological parents under maternity and paternity leave are extended on the same terms to employees who become parents through adoption.

Payout

Both maternity and paternity leave are fully covered by social security, with the employer initially covering the cost and subsequently claiming reimbursement from the social security system.

Bereavement Leave in Colombia

5 days

Employees are allowed to take up to five working days of bereavement leave, in the event of a close family member’s death. Close family members include: a spouse (or long-term partner), a parent, a parent-in-law, a son­ or daughter-in-law, a grandparent, a sibling, a child, an adopted parent or a child, a stepchild, or a stepparent.

Payout

The employer pays for bereavement leave in Colombia.

Jury Duty Leave in Colombia

Not specified by law.

Military Leave in Colombia

Unpaid leave

Military service is unpaid leave, during which the employment contract is temporarily suspended. Employers are required to reinstate the employee in their position within 30 days after the conclusion of military service. The duration of military service in Colombia is 1 to 2 years.

Payout

Military leave in Colombia is unpaid.

Voting Leave in Colombia

1/2 day

Employees exercising their right to vote are eligible for a half-day of paid leave. After returning to work, they must provide a properly signed voting certificate as proof of their participation.

Payout

The employer pays for voting leave in Colombia.

Marriage Leave in Colombia

5 days

Employees are permitted to take up to 5 working days of paid leave for their wedding.

Public Holidays in Colombia for 2024

18 paid public holidays

Private employers in Colombia are required to provide paid leave for 18 public holidays. These paid statutory holidays are separate from and in addition to annual leave.

A complete list of official holidays celebrated by Colombia:
Date Holiday General Rule
January 1 New Year January 1
January 8 Epiphany (Three King’s Holiday) 2nd Monday in January
March 25 St Joseph’s Day Movable
March 28 Maundy Thursday Thursday before Easter Sunday
March 29 Good Friday Friday before Easter Sunday
May 1 Worker’s Day May 1
May 13 Ascension Day Holiday Movable
June 3 Corpus Christi Movable
June 10 Sacred Heart Day Movable
July 1 Feast of St Peter and St Paul Movable
July 20 Independence Day July 20
August 7 Battle of Boyacá Day August 7
August 19 Assumption Day Movable
October 14 Columbus Day Movable
November 4 All Saints’ Day Movable
Novemb. 11 Independence of Cartagena Movable
December 8 Feast of Immaculate Conception December 8
Decemb. 25 Christmas December 25

Sources

  1. Definitive Guide to Hiring in Colombia, https://www.globalexpansion.com/countrypedia/colombia
  2. National Laws and Labour Standards in Colombia, https://wageindicator.org/documents/decentworkcheck/latinamerica/colombia-english.pdf
  3. Payroll and Benefits Guide Colombia, https://www.papayaglobal.com/countrypedia/country/colombia/
  4. Employment Law in Colombia, https://www.atlashxm.com/countries/colombia
  5. Colombia: Working Time, Time Off Work & Minimum Wage, https://www.dlapiperintelligence.com/goingglobal/employment/index.html?t=08-minimum-employment-rights&c=CO
  6. Employee Benefits in Colombia, https://bradfordjacobs.com/countries/south-america/colombia/employee-benefits-in-colombia/
  7. Benefits for voting in elections and serving as jury, https://bu.com.co/en/insights/noticias/benefits-voting-elections-and-serving-jury

Regulations on vacations and holidays: Substantive Labour Code (Codigo del Trabajo), Law 2663 of 1950, amended in 2021.

Check out our Leave Laws page to learn more about laws in various countries.

All materials have been prepared for general information purposes only to permit you to learn more about this region's leave laws. The information presented is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, and may not be current. Please contact your local legal counsel to learn more about the leave laws in your country.

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