When hiring employees in Colombia, one of the most crucial things to get right is your benefits package. Not only do you need to offer competitive benefits to attract top talent—but your benefits also need to comply with Colombian labor laws, which mandate that employers must provide certain minimum benefits to all their employees.
Putting together a benefits package can be overwhelming, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! Below, you'll find a list of all the employee benefits required by Colombian law—plus some common, supplementary benefits you can consider offering your employees, should you want to go above and beyond.
What employee benefits are mandatory in Colombia?
In Colombia, mandatory benefits work a bit differently than in many other countries. Most countries have mandatory benefits that employers are required to offer employees. But in Colombia, you have the option of paying your employees an integral salary, which means that instead of providing mandatory benefits, you pay your employees in lieu. This can only be done if you and your employee agree to it in writing, and it doesn't apply to paid leave.
For employees who earn standard salaries and receive benefits, these are the ones that are required in Colombia.
Social security contributions
Employers are required to make contributions to the Colombian social security system on their employees' behalf, as part of their income taxes. Social security covers a number of important funds, including the pension fund, family compensation fund, professional risks, Family Welfare (ICBF), and National Apprenticeship Service (SENA).
As of 2023, the minimum monthly wage is 1.16 million Colombian pesos (COP). All Colombian employees are entitled to a monthly salary of at least that amount.
Short- and long-term disability
Employees can collect two-thirds of their salary for up to 90 days and 50% of their salary for an additional 90 days, with a possible 180-day extension (on short-term disability). Long-term disability pay depends on their age and whether their disability is work-related.
All Colombians must have healthcare. Public healthcare is provided by the Empresa Promotora de Salud (EPS), which is funded by taxes from both employees and employers. It's also common for employers to provide private health insurance.
Employees receive 15 paid vacation days for each year of service after their first year on the job. Leave is adjusted pro rata for employees who have not yet worked a full year.
Employees receive 100% of their salary for the first two days of illness, paid by their employer. From the third day up to 90 days, they receive two-thirds of their salary, paid by the social security system. From 91-180 days, they receive 50% of their salary, also paid by social security. If the employee is injured while on the job, they're entitled to 100% of their salary for up to 180 days of leave.
Pregnant employees and mothers who adopt children receive 18 weeks of maternity leave. Up to two weeks can be taken before the due date, if a doctor recommends it. Working fathers receive two weeks of paid paternity leave for children of their spouse or permanent partner, or as adoptive fathers. Parents can also choose to split the last six weeks of maternity leave.
Colombia recognizes 18 statutory holidays. Employees are entitled to paid time off on these days. If a holiday falls on a weekend, they'll typically receive a replacement holiday (usually the working day immediately before or after the statutory holiday).
Here are Colombia's 18 public holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Saint Joseph’s Day
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Labour Day
- Ascension Day
- Corpus Christi
- Feast of the Sacred Heart
- Feasts of Saints Peter and Paul
- Independence Day
- Battle of Boyacá Day
- Assumption of Mary
- Day of the Races
- All Saints’ Day
- Cartagena Independence Day
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- Christmas Day
Colombian labor laws allow for paid leave in a number of other circumstances:
- Up to five days for license for serious domestic calamity, or when a family or personal event affects an employee's ability to do their job duties.
- Up to five days for mourning the death of a spouse, permanent companion, or any family member up to the second degree of consanguinity.
- Up to one day to attend the burial of a colleague if it will not affect the company's operation.
- As needed for official state functions such as jury duty, plus one paid day of rest within 45 days of serving.
- On voting day, plus one paid half day of rest in the month following.
- As needed to attend union meetings for any employee with a trade union license.
Employees in Colombia can work no more than two hours of overtime per day, or 12 hours per week. On top of their usual remuneration, overtime should be paid at 125% of their usual wages. Overnight overtime or overtime on Sundays or holidays is paid at 175%.
A 13th-month salary payment is mandatory in Colombia. It's typically paid in two installments. Employers should pay the first half before June 15 and the second half before December 20.
When an employee is terminated, unless there was just cause, they are entitled to severance payments and notice periods. The amount of severance depends on the duration of their employment and how much they earn.
What employee benefits are optional in Colombia?
In addition to mandatory benefits, many employers choose to offer extra benefits to help attract top talent. Just make sure these are outlined in your employment agreement (also called an employment contract) so it's clear what's being offered and what isn't.
Private health insurance
While all Colombians receive healthcare funded by social security, many employers offer private health insurance that provides more services, better quality care, or access to newer or higher tech facilities.
Life insurance is another common supplementary benefit many employers offer in Colombia. It's attractive to employees, as it can help their families navigate economic uncertainty in case of a sudden death, illness, or disability.
A company car is a bonus an employer is likely to offer if the position involves traveling to different worksites or if the job takes place in a rural area.
Many employers offer their employees small bonuses, sometimes even in the form of pre-paid debit cards they can use to purchase gas and groceries.
Other common employee perks in Colombia include:
- Additional pension plans
- Medical check-ups
- Transportation allowance
- Birthday holidays
- Tuition support
How to hire people overseas in minutes—with Rippling
Running a global workforce isn't easy. It can be a challenge for global companies just to keep their benefits compliant—let alone managing offer letters, equipment, payroll, and everything else global employees and contractors need.
That's why, if you're going to hire employees, contractors, or remote workers globally, you need Rippling. Rippling makes it easy to onboard, manage, and pay employees and contractors around the world—in one system that's always compliant with local employment laws and regulations.
Disclaimer: Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.