A. EMPLOYER POLICY REQUIREMENTS
In order to be legally compliant, employers are required by legislation to create and implement a number of employment policies. The following are required statutory policies for any organisation, which seeks to start hiring employees and develop a commercial activity in Colombia:
- An employee handbook. An employee handbook is only mandatory for employers occupying more than five (5) employees in commercial companies, more than ten (10) employees in industrial companies, or more than twenty (20) employees in agricultural companies.
- A written management system of health and safety in the workplace. For implementing the written management system, a study must be done by a professional in health and safety at the workplace to determine specific requirements, depending on the commercial activity intended to be performed.
Statutory policies imply certain posting obligations, as well as following a determinate number of requirements and procedures mandated by law for these policies to be valid.
While not a policy itself, every employer must create a special internal body in order to study and attend to complaints regarding harassment in the workplace and a committee of health and safety in the workplace. These bodies consist of representatives of the employer and the employees.
There are several policies which are not mandatory, but which employers should nonetheless create. These policies will help an organisation manage employee relations and mitigate the risk of legal liability:
- Policies regulating non-statutory benefits (i.e. whether they are inmoney or in-kind, their conditions for recognition, whether they are salary or not), if intended to be provided for any, or all employees.
- Policies related to the use of employer tools (computer and mobile phone use, Internet, social media, physical tools, etc.) to ensure employees are aware of the expectations on their use and their nature as a working tool and not salary in-kind.
For both statutory and recommended policies to be created, our firm has extensive experience preparing and counselling on precedent policies, which can be efficiently adapted to your organisation. In the particular case of the written management system of health and safety in the workplace, we are available to prepare and provide counsel on the security and safety at the workplace policies, as well as the mandatory safety and hygiene regulations.
B) EMPLOYEE TRAINING REQUIREMENTS
Employers are required to provide for, and complete, certain training activities. The following is statutorily mandated training that employers must provide:
- Train at least one health and work safety representative to enable him or her to exercise the powers and perform the duties of that position. Level of training is established by law and depends on the size of the organisation. However, it is possible (and common) for the organisation to hire a person with the training and/or expertise already required for the position. This training must be performed by an authorised specialist in health and safety in the workplace.
- Ensure all employees, prior to the start of their employment contract, basic training in general and specific aspects of the activities to be performed, including identification control of hazards at work and prevention of work accidents and professional diseases.
- Employers must define a training program (reviewable at least once a year) to ensure basic knowledge in health and safety awareness for all employees, contractors and temporary workers.
- Train the employees who are members of the committee of health and safety in the workplace as well as members of the emergency brigade, in the aspects needed to perform their role in the organisation.
- Employers with more than 50 employees and a working time of 48 hours-a-week, are mandated to designate two hours of the working time for cultural, sports, recreational or training activities.
C) EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS
In Colombia, creation of written employment agreements for all employees is not mandatory, but is nevertheless recommended. In the absence of a written employment agreement, the employment relationship is deemed by law as an indefinite period employment contract. According to Colombian legislation, any personal service is presumed to be an employment relationship. In such cases, the alleged employer is the one called to rebut the presumption.
While employment agreements offer certain freedom for employers to establish the conditions and rules that govern the employment relationship, provisions cannot be to the detriment of the employee’s rights otherwise established by law. Written employment agreements are essential to limit the risk of legal liability and financial exposure of the organization, by setting clear rules for the employment relationship, especially for terms of salary and its form, non-salary benefits, type of contract, working time, position and trial period (which could only be possible in written employment agreements).