Congratulations on selecting your first Colombian employee! After interviewing all the candidates and choosing the one who's the best fit for your open role, it's time to send them a job offer letter.
This step in the hiring process may seem straightforward, but it's actually trickier than you think. In many countries, an offer letter is a legally binding contract—and it needs to meet certain requirements to comply with local labor codes and employment laws. When you send your offer letter to a job candidate in Colombia, it's your chance to outline important aspects of the employment relationship, including the roles and responsibilities of both your employee and you, their employer.
So before you draft and send your offer letter, read this guide where you’ll find everything you need to know about creating legally compliant offer letters for full-time employees in Colombia.
Requirements for employment contracts in Colombia
In Colombia, the offer letter is also considered an employment contract. It isn't necessary to have an employment contract in writing—verbal agreements are also seen as valid in most cases with some exceptions (more on those below).
In Colombia, an employment relationship exists when:
- The employee provides services to their employer personally.
- They have a subordinate relationship to their employer.
- They are paid for the service they provide.
Whether an employment agreement is written or verbal, it needs to meet a few requirements:
- It must be agreed upon at the start of the onboarding process.
- Verbal agreements must at least cover the role, salary, and duration of employment.
- Fixed-term contracts must be in writing and can last no longer than three years.
- Probation periods must be in writing and can last no longer than two months for an indefinite-term contract, or 20% of the length of a fixed-term contract.
- Medical exams are required for prospective employees, and must be performed at least three days before they start work.
- If the work contract is written, it must be signed in person. Digital signatures are not allowed.
Colombia job offer letter checklist
- Position (job title), job description, and start date.
- Term of the contract. If the employment agreement is indefinite, state this in the contract. If it's a fixed-term contract, Colombian law requires this to be in writing as well. Fixed-term employment agreements cannot exceed three years, and can then be renewed for no more than one year.
- Probationary period. If there is a probation period for the role, Colombian law requires this to be outlined and agreed upon in writing. Probation periods can last no longer than two months for indefinite employment, or 20% of the contract duration for a fixed-term role.
- Conditions of employment. Describe when and where your new employee will work, including their working days and hours and whether they will work on site or remotely.
- Background check. Employment background checks are only allowed in Colombia if you have the job seeker's explicit permission.
- Compensation and benefits.
- Salary. Include details about the employee's salary, specifically whether they'll be paid a weekly, biweekly, or monthly salary, and whether it will be paid in Colombian pesos or another currency.
- Benefits. Briefly outline the benefits included in the new hire's compensation, including both mandatory and supplemental benefits (for example, some businesses provide private healthcare, even though social-security-funded public healthcare is available for all Colombians). Mandatory benefits include:
- Social security system contributions (covers pension, professional risks, public health insurance, and family welfare)
- Overtime pay
- Annual leave, including public holidays
- Parental leave (AKA maternity leave and paternity leave)
- Leave policies. If your company has policies for sick leave or vacation time that differ from Colombia's mandatory minimums, outline them in your offer letter.
- Termination policy. Include a section that describes termination of employment, including notice periods and severance pay. Be specific—for example, if severance pay varies depending on years of service or whether the employee was terminated with just cause, outline that in this section.
- Contact information and phone number.
- Non-compete and non-solicit agreements. If the employee is subject to a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, include the provisions in the offer letter. However, note that post-employment non-competes are generally invalid and unenforceable in Colombia.
- Clause on the applicant's ability to work in Colombia legally. Colombia has several different types of visas that allow residents to legally work while residing within the country. It's a good idea to include a clause in your offer letter that employment is contingent upon the applicant having a work visa and being legally able to work for your company.
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Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal 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.