Colombia: ABC of Gustavo Petro’s Labor Reform

In LatinAmerican Post, we show some of the most critical points to consider in the labor reform presented by the Government of Gustavo Petro: what benefits workers?.

People in favor of the Petro labor reform

Photo: TW-petrogustavo

LatinAmerican Post | Christopher Ramírez Hernández

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Leer en español: Colombia: ABC de la reforma laboral de Gustavo Petro

On March 16, the labor reform with which the government of President Gustavo Petro intends to change various points and crucial areas of workers in that country was filed before the Congress of the Republic in Colombia.

“This bill must allow (…) the cessation of sexual and labor harassment in the country; it must allow the real salary to grow in Colombia so that it can industrialize; it should allow people to be happier in this society and enjoy more free time. It must allow workers to organize to discuss face-to-face with the business world,” explained the Colombian president during a symbolic act at La Casa de Nariño (presidential headquarters).

Likewise, in an official statement published on the website of the Presidency, it is specified that this reform was born as a necessity to face the labor changes that the new reality brought with it after the COVID-19 pandemic; even other scenarios that had been presented themselves before the health crisis, to which not much attention had been paid.

“The world of work changes keeps changing and reorganizing itself. New forms have arrived, such as platform work, which needs to be regulated, following international normative and jurisprudential experiences, ”the Colombian Executive explained.

Taking this into account, at LatinAmerican Post, we made an ABC of some crucial points to consider in this new labor reform.

Prioritization of Hiring for an Indefinite Term

For the Colombian Government, labor outsourcing (especially contracts for the provision of services) affects the labor stability of a society.

To support this argument, the Executive cited the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which Colombia is a part, which pointed out "that outsourcing phenomena increase inequality and has also highlighted excess hours of work that Colombians work."

In this way, public and private companies will see their ability to contract for services limited when the collaborator is in charge of missionary tasks within the organization.

Now, this does not mean that temporary contracts cannot be made when the need of the contractor company is that. "Exceptionally, they may enter into employment contracts to attend to tasks of a temporary nature, either for a determined time, for the duration of the completion of a specific work or task or to carry out occasional, accidental or transitory work," the document details reform officer.

Finally, the text also presents a precise scenario regarding fixed-term contracts: they will be carried out with terms of more than one year and with the opportunity of extensions for two more years of the contract. After this, "it shall be understood to be held for an indefinite term from the beginning of the employment relationship" if neither the employee nor the employer shows signs of wanting to end the employment relationship 30 days before the end of the contract.

The 12-Hour Night Shift Returns

With the arrival of former President Álvaro Uribe to power in 2002, a labor reform was established in which the night shift in Colombia was reduced from 12 to 9 hours; therefore, the daytime shift was increased from 12 to 15 hours.

This scenario is precisely the one Gustavo Petro's reform wants to correct, evident in returning to 12-hour day and night shifts, just as they were more than 20 years ago.

In this sense, what the Government intends is for the daytime shift to begin at 6:00 am and end at 6:00 pm, the time at which the night shift would start until 6:00 am the following day. This would also represent a change in the payment of night overtime in the country.

You can also read: ABC of the health reform in Colombia

Sunday and Holiday Surcharge of 100%

Parallel to the proposal for the return of 12-hour days, the option was also presented to return the payment of the 100% Sunday and holiday surcharge instead of the 75% that is currently paid.

In this way, if a person works the ordinary day (8 hours) on a Sunday or a holiday and earns 10,000 pesos per hour, the payment for said work would be double (20,000 pesos). That is, if the employee makes 80,000 pesos on an ordinary day, for every Sunday or holiday work, he will receive 160,000 pesos.

Guarantees for Work on Digital Platforms

One of the most innovative points of this labor reform is the one that has to do with the guarantees for the workers of digital platforms such as Rappi and Merqueo, among others.

According to the official text, all companies whose collaborators work through this digital option must ensure that these people are affiliated and pay their social security (health, pension, and occupational risks) on time independently.

If they do not meet this requirement, the company will bear the social security expenses, as would be done in a fixed or indefinite-term contract.

Likewise, the document is clear when it states that if the worker is not insured (independently or on behalf of the company) and suffers a risk covered by social security, the company will assume the costs. Economics derived from this situation.

Finally, the reform also exposes other changes in human and industrial terms, such as "the formalization and industrialization of the Colombian countryside, an increase in paternity leave to 12 weeks and equal pay between men and women, among others," according to the minister of Work, Gloria Inés Ramírez Ríos.

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