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Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Colombia

Holiday leave

In Colombia, employees who have fulfilled a year of continuous service are entitled to 15 working days of paid annual leave, as stated in Article 186 of the Labor Code. This vacation leave accrues over time, and employees cannot take their entire leave entitlement at the start of their employment period.

All employees become eligible for paid annual leave after completing their first year of service with their employer. The timing of this leave should be mutually agreed upon by the employer and the employee, keeping in mind the operational needs of the company. This is in line with Article 187 of the Labor Code.

During their annual leave, employees are entitled to their regular wages, as per Article 189 of the Labor Code. If an employee does not use their vacation time, Article 192 allows for the accumulation of this time for up to two consecutive years. Employers also have the option to provide financial compensation for unused vacation time.

In some cases, collective bargaining agreements may offer more generous vacation leave entitlements than the minimum requirements outlined in the Labor Code. It is mandatory for employers to maintain accurate records of employees' vacation leave accrual and usage.

Public holidays

Colombia observes a mix of secular, religious, and historical holidays throughout the year.

Secular Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1st): This day marks the beginning of the Gregorian calendar year.
  • Labor Day (May 1st): This day honors the contributions of workers.
  • Battle of Boyacá (August 7th): This day is the anniversary of the battle that sealed Colombia's independence from Spain in 1819.
  • Independence Day (July 20th): This day commemorates Colombia's declaration of independence from Spain in 1810.
  • Discovery of America Day (October 12th): This day is the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas.
  • Independence of Cartagena (November 11th): This day celebrates the independence of the city of Cartagena from Spain in 1811.
  • Christmas Day (December 25th): This day celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

Religious Holidays (Predominantly Catholic)

  • Epiphany (January 6th): This day celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.
  • Saint Joseph's Day (March 19th): This day honors Saint Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary.
  • Maundy Thursday (March/April): This day commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with his apostles. The date varies annually.
  • Good Friday (March/April): This day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The date varies annually.
  • Ascension Day (May, date varies): This day celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
  • Corpus Christi (May/June, date varies): This day honors the Holy Eucharist.
  • Sacred Heart of Jesus (June, date varies): This is a celebration devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
  • Saints Peter and Paul (June 29th): This day honors the martyrdom of saints Peter and Paul.
  • Assumption Day (August 15th): This day commemorates the Virgin Mary's bodily assumption into heaven.
  • All Saints' Day (November 1st): This day honors all saints and martyrs.
  • Immaculate Conception (December 8th): This day celebrates the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.

Types of leave

In Colombia, the primary law governing leave entitlements for employees is the Colombian Labor Code (Código Sustantivo del Trabajo). The various types of leave include annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, and other types such as bereavement, marriage, and study leave.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to 15 working days of paid annual leave after completing one year of continuous service (Labor Code, Article 186). All employees are entitled to this leave after completing their first year of service with their employer. Leave accrues throughout the year and cannot be taken in advance. Employers and employees should mutually agree upon vacation timing, considering the company's operational needs and the employee's preference for rest (Labor Code, Article 187).

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to paid sick leave with a valid medical certificate. The amount of paid sick leave depends on the length of service:

  • Less than 1 year of service: Employer pays up to half an employee's salary for the first two days of illness (Labor Code, Article 227).
  • 90 to 180 days of service: Employer pays two-thirds of an employee's salary for the period after the first two days of illness (Labor Code, Article 227).
  • More than 180 days of service: Employer pays two-thirds of salary for up to 180 days (Labor Code, Article 227).

A medical certificate is generally required to substantiate sick leave.

Maternity Leave

Female employees are entitled to 18 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, typically divided into 8 weeks before and 10 weeks after childbirth (Law 1822 of 2017). Eligible women receive maternity pay through the social security system that typically includes a percentage of their wages.

Paternity Leave

Fathers are entitled to 2 weeks of paid paternity leave following the birth of their child. This law applies even in cases of adoption (Law 2114 of 2021).

Other Types of Leave

  • Bereavement Leave: Employees are typically granted 5 working days of bereavement leave in the event of the death of a close family member (Labor Code, Article 57).
  • Marriage Leave: Employees are entitled to 8 working days of paid leave upon their marriage (Labor Code, Article 57).
  • Study Leave: Employers might be obligated to grant leave for employees engaged in qualified study programs (Labor Code, Articles 236 - 239).
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