Subscribe to access world-class global resources and education: Subscribe
Subscribe to access world-class global resources and education: Subscribe

Gradual Reduction of Weekly Working Hours in Colombia Begins

By: Nathan North | 21 Jul 2023

Law No. 2101 of 2021, which entered into force July 15, 2021, signalled a significant shift in work practices with a focus on reducing the number of weekly working hours. Before the enactment of this law, the Labor Code allowed for a maximum working schedule of eight hours a day, distributed over six days for a total of 48 hours per week. Alternatively, the employer and the employee could agree to condense the 48 hours into five working days, permitting Saturday as a rest day, without the extended hours being considered overtime.

Under Law 2101, the weekly work hours are reduced from 48 to 42. The reduction, however, is being made gradually over a four-year period. The first reduction in weekly work hours from 48 to 47 took effect two years after the law entered into force, i.e., July 15, 2023. On July 15, 2024, the weekly work hours are reduced to 46 and on July 15, 2025, the weekly work hours drop to the target of 42. The allocation of these hours over the week will remain flexible, with the option to distribute them over five or six days. Under the law, the reduction in the working day is not to result in a reduction in salary or benefit remuneration, nor the value of the ordinary working hour, nor does it exonerate workers from obligations.

Additionally, the Labor Code permits unique work schedules under the following conditions:

  • The shift work schedule allows an employee to work more than eight hours a day or 48 hours a week, provided the average does not exceed 48 hours in a three-week period.
  • A 36-hour per week schedule can be adapted for night shifts, absolving the employer of night surcharges, given that no overtime work is involved.
  • There is also an option for maximum weekly hours to be divided flexibly over a maximum of six days a week, with one mandatory rest day. An employee may work on Sundays for a minimum of four continuous hours and up to nine hours a day, with no surcharge applicable by the employer, as long as the total weekly working hours within the usual daily schedule are not surpassed.
The reduction in maximum working hours will also affect these special work schedules, starting July 15th, 2023, except for the 36-hour weekly schedule.

Overtime work is capped at two hours per day or 12 hours per week and requires authorization from the Ministry of Labor unless in force majeure situations. An employee cannot choose to opt out of these restrictions or limitations.

The enactment of Law No. 2101 signals a trend towards shorter work weeks. Its provisions could lead to a shift in work-life balance, giving employees more personal time while still fulfilling their work responsibilities. As the law takes effect and the working hours gradually decrease over the next few years, it will be interesting to see its broader impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and overall workforce morale.

If you would like to access global payroll resources, please subscribe here.

Nathan North is Director of Strategic Initiatives for PayrollOrg.