The Senate of Colombia has approved a new law that protects people’s right to disconnect from work by establishing that employees are not obliged to respond to out-of-hours correspondences from their bosses.
Under the new legislation, workers will be able to claim additional compensation for any duties they are expected to perform outside of their normal working schedule.
“This law favors health, family, decongestion from work, a good psychological state,” said Senator Laura Fortich Sánchez, one of the lawmakers who put forward the bill, after it passed an initial reading in late-September.
Having since been approved during a plenary session of the Senate on November 16, the legislation now only needs to go through the formality of presidential approval to enter into force.
The law protecting the right to disconnect from work will apply to both in-person and remote work. However, according to Representative Rodrigo Rojas Lara, another of the lawmakers behind the new legislation, it will not be applicable to specific roles, with serving members of security forces and certain medical workers among those excluded.
“There are some exceptions that were included in the articles, which are precisely those positions of trust and management and absolute availability in which it will not apply, but companies must advance a policy of disconnection from work so that these workers have their rest times,” Rojas told local media outlet RCN.
Employers will have the right to contact workers out of hours in the event of an extraordinary vital task necessary to the normal operation of the company, however the employee will be due compensation for responding to such a request.
Right to disconnect from work established amid shifting work patterns
The new law protecting the right to disconnect from work comes just months after Colombian President Ivan Duque signed off on another law reducing the standard working week from 48 hours to 42 hours, with the change being implemented incrementally over a four year period.
That will see statutory working hours reduced to 47 hours per week within two years, before being reduced to 46 hours a year later. The following year, they will be cut down to the new standard 42 hour working week.
The law establishing the right to disconnect from work also comes at a time when many workers are reporting that increased remote working due to the global pandemic is actually leading to employees working longer hours than previously.
SEE ALSO: Employment Law in Colombia: a Guide
According to one study, remote working due to the pandemic has seen working hours extended by 2.5 hours per day. That has contributed to a growing proportion of people expressing a desire to return to the office, at least for part of the working week, if not full-time.
With many companies saying that they will continue to operate fully or partially remote for the foreseeable future, Colombia’s new law to protect the right to disconnect from work should go some way to help employees better manage the hours they work.
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At Biz Latin Hub, we have a team of experienced corporate support professionals ready to assist you entering the market and doing business in Colombia.
Our comprehensive portfolio of corporate solutions includes accounting & taxation, company formation, due diligence, hiring & PEO, and visa processing, while our corporate legal team in Colombia will be able to provide you with all of the support you need regarding the right for employees to disconnect from work, as well as many other aspects of the labor code.
We also have teams in 15 other markets around Latin America and the Caribbean, so we are ideally placed to assist with multi-jurisdiction market entry and cross-border operations within the region.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can support you doing business in Colombia.
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