1. Minimum Requirements
Labor jurisprudence and doctrine agree in stating that in order for an employment agreement to be construed, the existence of the following three elements is required:
- The rendering of a personal service;
- Subordination; and
- The remuneration as compensation of the service (salary).
In addition, by virtue of the territoriality principle, the Colombian Labor Code will be applicable to all foreigners and nationals, whenever they render their services of a labor nature within Colombian territory.
2. Types of Employment Contracts
According to Article 45 of the Labor Code employment contracts can be executed for a fixed period, for the duration of a specific task, indefinitely or to run an occasional, accidental or temporary job.
1. Indefinite term contract:
This type of agreement can be agreed by the parties verbally or in writing. The term is not specified, and it is not occasional or temporary. Under this type of agreement there is no legal requirement for termination notice in advance; the agreement may be terminated at any time, subject to corresponding indemnifications if applicable.
2. Fixed Term Contract:
This type of agreement must be documented in writing and its term cannot exceed three (3) years.
3. Contract for the duration of a specific task:
This type of agreement must be documented in writing and the parties shall agree that the duration of it corresponds to the necessary time to execute a particular job.
4. Occasional, accidental or temporary contract:
This type of contract cannot exceed one calendar month in duration and is characterized by satisfying the extraordinary needs of the company.
3. Trial Period
The trial period is dependent on the type of employment agreement:
- For indefinite term contracts, the trial period is up to two (2) months.
- For fixed term agreements with a term of less than one (1) year the trial period cannot be higher than one fifth of the initial term agreed without exceeding two (2) months.
The trial period must be agreed upon in writing. During the trial period the labor contract may be unilaterally terminated at any time without prior notice, and without the payment of severance indemnification for termination without cause.
4. Notice Period
For the case of fixed term employment agreements, the employer must give notice of its decision to not renew the agreement at least 30 days prior to the expiration date; otherwise the agreement will automatically be extended.
As for indefinite term employment agreements, an employer can decide to terminate the agreement at any time without giving notice to the employee, but with the obligation of paying an indemnification for unilateral termination if the termination is not grounded on a just cause.
The minimum statutory notice period an employee has for terminating his/her employment is thirty (30) days. Nevertheless, if the employee fails to give notice of termination there is no sanction provided by Colombian labor laws.