Since 2018, the Colombian Ministry of Labour has contemplated the possibility for employers to use the digital signature and the electronic signature, to sign the employment contract and other documents related to the employment relationship.
Decree 526 of 2021 is intended to guarantee that both the electronic and digital signature are as trustworthy as the handwritten signature, and provide the same effects as the latter when signing an employment contract.
Both the electronic and digital signature must comply with the following requirements:
- the creation of the signature must contain data that belongs exclusively to the signatory.
- it should be possible to detect any unauthorised alteration to the signature after being used.
Furthermore, when using electronic and digital signatures in employment contracts, the employer must have a system that allows for the following:
- ability to identify the signatory
- digital traceability of the signed documents
- possibility to conserve all documents as well as the meta data corresponding to the electronic signature.
Additionally, the requirements for the use of electronic signatures are:
- the signature will be valid so long as the employment contract is still in force
- the employer must assume all costs related to the use of the electronic signature
- the use of this signature will be exclusive to the employment relationship
- all means provided by the employer to allow the use of the electronic signature must comply with the trustworthiness requirements mentioned above.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
Under Colombian law, it is possible to sign employment contracts electronically, either with a digital signature or an electronic signature. Furthermore, determining which signature is more suitable to be used for such purposes will depend on the specific needs and possibilities of each employer. In any case, the impossibility of electronically signing the employment contract cannot be an obstacle which prevents the hiring of an employee.